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The Weeds debates Graham-Cassidy longer than senators will be allowed to

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Obamacare repeal was dead — until it wasn’t.

On the September 20 episode of The Weeds, Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein discuss the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Graham-Cassidy bill, which Sarah calls the “most radical of all the GOP health care bills.”

She explains that Graham-Cassidy “blows up the Affordable Care Act” by bundling money allotted for Obamacare and Medicaid expansion and redistributing it using a “funding formula that takes from states that have been very good at implementing Obamacare/Medicaid” and gives to states that resisted Obamacare implementation. This policy would help places like Alabama, which chose not to expand Medicaid, and hurt places like California and New York.

The process of voting on the Graham-Cassidy bill has been frighteningly quick. Sarah says the entire process will happen in about 72 hours, which will include one hearing, a partial Congressional Budget Office score, and a vote.

“Because this bill is being considered as an amendment to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, it actually is only eligible to 90 seconds of debate on the Senate floor,” she says.

Here’s Ezra critiquing the policy process behind the Graham-Cassidy Bill:

This stuff about “this is the last car leaving town,” it is actually not a defense. It is not even a real attempt at a defense. It is a description of what is going on. Republicans are acting like all of the normal parts of legislating are a waste of time that they can’t possibly do. Hearings, amendments, going back and forth with the CBO, taking the time to sell a bill to the public and trying to explain it, everything you might do. And they’ve keep saying, “No, no, we have no time. We have to do it this year under these reconciliation instructions.” And it’s not true.

One thing that [Sarah] did not mention — and it is my understanding, because of the way the calendar would work out here, because they would only get the preliminary budget CBO score and then pass it through the Senate, so it would then have to go to the House — but because the clock would be about to run out, the House would not be able to amend it. The House would not have time to amend it. It would just have to be an up-or-down vote.

In the past, we’ve said, “Well, this bill doesn’t look very good, and it has been drafted very quickly and nobody knows what it would do, but don’t worry, we are going to go to committee and take some time working out the details.” That does not happen here. This is the most truncated, jarring of the processes. It is the one with the least information; they will have less of a CBO score on this bill than the [American Health Care Act]. This is no way to configure the American health care system.

Show notes: