Sept. 19, 2017: NJHA: Graham-Cassidy Bill Would Hurt New Jersey

PRINCETON – New Jersey would face a loss of $3.9 billion in federal healthcare funds in 2026 under the Graham-Cassidy proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaving the Garden State with the fourth largest funding cut in the nation.

The cuts would come to the state’s Medicaid program, which today provides healthcare to 1.8 million New Jersey residents, including one in every three children in the state.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), aims to repeal and replace the existing Affordable Care Act with a block grant proposal that would send lump sums of federal dollars to the states and remove many of the federal requirements for the design of Medicaid plans. All told, the plan would cut an estimated $240 billion in federal healthcare funding by 2026. It also would allow the elimination of consumer safeguards like non-discrimination protections for those with pre-existing health conditions.

In a letter to the congressional delegation today, NJHA said the measure would have a devastating impact on New Jersey healthcare services. NJHA also is concerned that there has been no analysis of the measure from the Congressional Budget Office to determine the number of people who would lose coverage and the impact on insurance premiums.

“Once again, we’re staring down a bad bill that would hurt millions of people, and Senate leadership seems intent on ramrodding it through the process with insufficient information and no opportunity for public input,” said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. “Since there is no CBO score of the Graham-Cassidy bill, we feel it’s imperative to note the devastating impact this measure could have on 1.8 million New Jersey residents who count on Medicaid for their healthcare – not to mention the significant hole it will shoot through the New Jersey state budget, which would be felt by taxpayers across the state.”

The Senate has until Sept. 30 to vote on an ACA repeal measure using a suspended rule process that requires just a majority of 51 votes to pass a bill rather than the normal procedure requiring 60 votes. That rush to vote has left the CBO with insufficient time to mark up the bill, leaving other groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to provide some insight into the bill’s potential fallout. In previous Republican repeal bills, up to 32 million people nationwide were slated to lose their insurance coverage.

According to the CBPP, New Jersey would suffer some of the greatest federal funding losses under this bill. Its $3.9 billion in projected losses ranks fourth nationally behind California, New York and Massachusetts.

“Under the ACA, the Garden State has seen the number of uninsured reach historic lows of 9 percent,” said Ryan. “This bill would harm New Jersey and its residents, costing them access to healthcare coverage along with $4 billion in funding. The combined impact would be a significant blow to access to healthcare in our state. These cuts will threaten our vulnerable Medicaid population including the aged, disabled, children and pregnant women. That’s why an array of consumer and patient groups from the AARP to the Arc of New Jersey have spoken out against the bill. The bottom line: This bill would hurt New Jersey.”

Ryan said she is heartened that New Jersey’s delegation has shown bipartisan support for protecting health insurance coverage for the state’s residents, in both the Senate and in the House. She urged Congress members to “continue to put New Jersey residents first while debating the future of healthcare coverage policy.”