Sen. Orrin Hatch led a contentious hearing Monday on the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, the latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Senate Finance Committee meeting started with protests. After a short recess when demonstrators were removed by police, senators took comments from the bill’s sponsors and representatives from state Medicaid programs and the American Cancer Society.
So far, neither Utah Senator Lee or Hatch have taken clear positions on the bill.
The Graham-Cassidy plan would give states wide discretion to manage their own health care programs.
Gov. Gary Herbert supports the bill, but critics say it would give states the choice to eliminate protections for essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions.
The bill would also eliminate the Medicaid expansion program and redistribute that money across states. It was introduced too quickly for the Congressional Budget Office to fully evaluate it. In a preliminary report released Tuesday the office said that nationally “millions of additional people would be uninsured.”
According to an outside budget analysis Utah – and other non-Medicaid expansion states - would actually get an increase in federal dollars.
The timing on this vote is critical for Republican senators who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Under the current rules, known as “reconciliation,” senators can pass legislation with just 51 votes. After Sept. 30 they’ll need 60.