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Repeal & Replace Watch

A Nail-Biter: California Nervously Awaits U.S. Senate’s Verdict On Obamacare

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) speaks as (from left) Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listen during a news briefing after the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the Capitol Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressional Republicans are giving repeal of Obama’s signature health law one more try.

They have until the end of the month to garner enough votes to pass the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, which would fundamentally change how health care is funded nationwide. Its effects would be especially far-reaching in California and other states that bought heavily into the Affordable Care Act.

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania who been working with GOP leaders to craft the latest measure, told Breitbart News that four states — Massachusetts, California, New York and Maryland — receive a disproportionate share of Obamacare funding. The Graham-Cassidy bill, he said, would “redistribute this money that has been heaped upon these four ultra blue, very wealthy states by the way, and don’t need a lot of federal support because they’re very wealthy states.”

Other Republicans who favor the bill argue it would provide states with increased flexibility while controlling costs.

Perhaps the most significant changes in the bill: allowing states to opt out of the “essential health benefits” guaranteed by the ACA and using lump sums, or “block grants,” to pay for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) and federal subsidies for the Obamacare exchanges, including Covered California. The bill also would remove the individual mandate for all Americans to obtain coverage. Critics say that could result in a riskier insurance pool dominated by sicker patients, making coverage less affordable for everyone.

In this radio segment, Emily Bazar of California Healthline and Kaiser Health News discussed the potential impact of the proposal in California and Nevada with Capital Public Radio host Beth Ruyak. The interview preceded a conference Thursday in Sacramento in which Bazar moderated a panel discussion titled “The ACA: What Happens Under Trump.”

One point Bazar underscored in her remarks about the future of the ACA: “I will not make any predictions.”

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