The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is strongly opposing the proposed Graham-Cassidy healthcare legislation, saying it would undermine the well-being of the county’s most vulnerable populations and burden taxpayers with heavier costs for years to come.
The measure — sponsored by U.S. Senators Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA.) — would reverse health delivery improvements under the Affordable Care Act, which have sliced the number of uninsured L.A. County residents nearly in half, according to county estimates.
The legislation, scheduled for a Senate vote next week, contains provisions that would effectively end funding both for Medicaid’s expansion under the ACA and for subsidies individuals can use to buy insurance. Instead, states would be given block grants to create their own programs and would not be required to keep ACA rules aimed at protecting consumer health.
“Any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is reckless, much like blowing up a bridge while people are walking across,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “If the Graham-Cassidy bill passes, almost seven million Californians would lose health coverage by 2027, with MediCal recipients taking the hardest hit.
“The bill would also allow health plans to increase rates to unaffordable levels for those with pre-existing conditions, putting countless lives at risk in Los Angeles County and across the state,” Ridley-Thomas added.
The county anticipates that these coverage losses would likely leave the uninsured with no choice but to seek care in costlier public and private hospital emergency rooms, with no organized system of follow-up care.
“Out of all the Republican attempts to gut health care for more than 22 million Americans, Graham-Cassidy promises to be the worst yet: minorities, women, veterans and many others would all suffer immediate and life-altering consequences,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, a former U.S. Secretary of Labor.
“When I was a member of President Obama’s cabinet, I was proud that we lowered premiums, improved women’s health and guaranteed that being denied care because of preexisting conditions was a thing of the past,” Solis said. “There is a reason that no doctors group or healthcare provider supports Graham-Cassidy: it is a bad prescription for the American people.”
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was also sharply critical of the move to repeal the ACA: “The life-threatening impact of this proposed legislation cannot be overstated. The Graham-Cassidy proposal will have a devastating effect on the state of California and most especially on our nation’s most populous county, Los Angeles.”
“This last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is the worst yet,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “Not only would it strip California of billions of dollars in federal funding and force millions of L.A. County residents from their health insurance, it would roll back the progress we have made in health coverage — bringing back lifetime caps and allowing insurance companies to potentially charge exorbitant rates to people with preexisting conditions.
“Nobody wins under the Graham-Cassidy plan,” Hahn said, “aside from a few politicians in Washington.”