Columbia family worried about Graham-Cassidy health care bill

10 months 4 weeks 8 hours ago Thursday, September 21 2017 Sep 21, 2017 Thursday, September 21, 2017 10:54:00 AM CDT September 21, 2017 in News
By: Jalyn Henderson, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - President Trump publicized his support this week for the replacement of the Affordable Care Act with the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

The proposed bill will repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, premium tax credits, cost sharing reduction payments, individual and employer mandates, and the Basic Health Program.

In turn, the bill will provide states with block grants to fund health insurance coverage in their state. States would then have more power in deciding coverage requirements.

So how would the Graham-Cassidy bill affect some Missourians? 

KOMU 8 spoke to one family to find out.

Scott Fines said he doesn't know how he and his wife will be able to afford their lifestyles if the bill passes.

His son, Ryan, has esophageal atresia, a condition where his upper esophagus ends and does not connect with his lower esophagus and stomach. 

"My son does not swallow like a normal child does. He doesn't eat like a normal child. Periodically he makes a face because he's trying to force food that's not going down very easily," Fines said.

Right now, Fines' employer insurance covers Ryan's annual doctor appointments, medications. That could change if the Graham-Cassidy bill passes.

"When he was born he spent six months in the hospital and ran up about $750,000 in medical bills," Fines said. "Every year he goes in for follow-ups and check ups which usually run between $20,000 and $30,000."

Fines' biggest concern with the bill is the possible reappearance of a lifetime cap.

Right now, the Affordable Care Act doesn't have a lifetime cap of expenses.

If the Graham-Cassidy bill goes into effect, it could put a $1 million cap in place on insurance, making Fines pay out of pocket for the remainder of his son's expenses.

Generally, Democrats are strongly opposed to the bill and are looking for alternatives.

Despite praise from President Trump, several Republican legislators on the national scale are still on the fence about voting in favor of the bill.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Republican Senator Roy Blunt said “The health care system we have under Obamacare is unsustainable. In Missouri, the vast majority of counties have only one insurer option on the exchanges this year and premiums are expected to increase by double digits next year. The Graham-Cassidy bill would make quality health care more affordable for Missourians, and provide more flexibility to the states to implement solutions that work for families and employers.”

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is staunchly opposed to the bill, saying to MSNBC this week "In addition to reauthorizing the children's insurance program, we should be stabilizing and fixing the problems with the Affordable Care Act."

KOMU 8 reached out to the Missouri Republican Party for comment, but didn't get a response.

Fines said if the bill passes, it will drastically affect the lives of several people depending on insurance.

"There are children with all kinds of medical conditions who will be absolutely devastated, it doesn't matter when you go in Missouri, in the country, or in the world if this thing passes," Fines said. 

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