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Opponents Of ACA Repeal Call On McCain Again

Doug Hart with the Alliance for Retired Americans urges Sen. John McCain to vote against the latest ACA repeal legislation.
Doug Hart with the Alliance for Retired Americans urges Sen. John McCain to vote against the latest ACA repeal legislation.

Opponents of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act are ratcheting up the pressure on U.S. Sen. John McCain to vote no.

On Wednesday, a handful of progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers gathered on the Capitol lawn in Phoenix to decry the latest ACA replacement legislation, known as the Graham-Cassidy plan.

“This bill is going to kill seniors. It’s going to kill fellow Americans. I can’t imagine the kind of people that would vote for such a bill,” Doug Hart with the Alliance for Retired Americans said.

“I think John McCain had a twinge of conscience last time,” Hart said, referring to McCain’s surprise vote to sink the so-called “skinny repeal." “We pray he has the same twinge of conscience this time.”

These gatherings have become almost routine in recent months with each attempt to repeal the health care law. And in many ways, the concerns remain the same.

“If you are in a pre-existing condition category, you will find yourself without insurance or having to pay a very high premium,” Arizona Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego said. “Of all the states that are going to lose because of this bill, Arizona is going to be one of the top,” Gallego said.

The legislation gives states block grants to help people buy coverage. It also lets states waive many of the consumer protections in the ACA and eliminates the subsidies for consumers. The bill’s sponsor, however, argues people with pre-existing conditions will be OK because states must still ensure people have access to affordable and adequate insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet released a score of the legislation and Arizona health officials are still crunching the numbers.

Instead of an open-ended funding stream, the Medicaid program would be capped. An analysis from Avalere finds that Arizona would lose about $11 billion in overall federal funding between 2020 and 2026. Much of that comes from cuts to Medicaid, including a phase-out of the extra funding tied to the ACA’s expansion of the program. More than 400,000 people are covered in Arizona because of the expansion. 

Another analyis from the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates Arizona's Medicaid could lose anywhere from $26 billion to $61 billion by 2036.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has come out in support of the bill alongside Sen. Jeff Flake.

McCain, a key vote, has repeatedly said he would like any ACA replacement to go through the regular legislative process but has not yet said what he will do.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.