Reversing Course: How the Graham-Cassidy Bill Would Harm Health Equity
Once again, behind closed doors, GOP senators negotiate to jam their last-ditch effort—the Graham-Cassidy bill—to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and slash Medicaid. This bill has even more devastating effects than the previous repeal bills, stripping coverage and protections from millions. These cuts would have a disproportionate effect on people of color and reverse recent progress on health equity.
Since ACA implementation began, people of color have seen the greatest gains in health coverage. The uninsured rates sharply declined for Latinos—from 42 percent to 31 percent—and for African Americans—from 22 percent to 11 percent. However, the Graham-Cassidy bill would reverse these gains by ending Medicaid expansion and eliminating financial assistance that helps moderate-income people buy private insurance. It would mean as many as 3 million African Americans and 4 million Latinos would be at risk of losing coverage and access to the care they need.
Even worse, the Graham-Cassidy bill would also slash the funding for the overall Medicaid program by radically converting it into a per-capita cap—jeopardizing coverage that people relied on long before the Affordable Care Act. Facing deep cuts in federal funding, states would have no choice but to roll back enrollment and cut benefits. Those massive cuts would hurt many low income seniors, children and people with disabilities—59 percent of those are people of color—who depend on the program for essential health care services.
In addition, under this bill, states could allow private insurers to drop essential health benefits and charge more to people with preexisting conditions, leaving more than 19 million people of color living with preexisting conditions at risk for losing access to critical services and in jeopardy of being priced out of the market altogether.
Communities of color would be among the hardest hit if the Graham-Cassidy bill became law. We must come together and fight back harder than ever to protect coverage and access to care for millions of low-income people of color.