Study: Most states would take hit from GOP health bill

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Associated Press

Washington — Most states would take a stiff budgetary hit if the latest Senate GOP health care bill becomes law, according to an analysis released Wednesday. That would likely result in more uninsured Americans.

The study by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that the Graham-Cassidy bill would lead to an overall $215 billion cut to states in federal funding for health insurance, through 2026. Reductions would grow over time.

“A reduction in federal subsidies for health insurance is likely to result in more people being uninsured,” said Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at Avalere, which specializes in health industry research. The study itself did not make estimates of the impact on insurance coverage.

The Avalere analysis comes as Senate leaders are rushing a vote on the legislation by the end of the month, before the expiration of special budget rules that allow passage by a simple majority. The findings could take on added importance, because the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it can’t complete a full analysis of the bill by the Sep. 30 vote deadline.

The Avalere study also found that over 20 years cuts could potentially total more than $4 trillion, but that scenario appears unlikely. It’s based on a literal reading of the bill, under which legal authority for the big pot of money to subsidize coverage would expire after 2026. Typically, Congress renews expiring programs.

Still, the study found more losers than winners. Thirty-four states would see cuts by 2026, while 16 would see increases. Among the losers are several states that were key for President Donald Trump, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.

Arizona and Alaska would be losers, a detail that could be important. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are seen as undecided on the legislation, and Republican leaders cannot afford many defections.

New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday he is opposed to the Graham-Cassidy bill because of cuts to his state, estimated by Avalere at $10 billion from 2020-2026.

Texas would be the biggest winner, with a $35-billion funding increase by 2026.