Revised Graham-Cassidy Bill Would Benefit States of Holdout Senators

September 25, 2017

Senate Republicans have updated their last-ditch Obamacare repeal bill in an effort to win over skeptical party members ahead of a key deadline this week, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO on Sunday night.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy and allies in recent days have tried to revise the legislation before their ability to pass repeal with a simple majority expires on Sept. 30. Enough Republican senators have raised opposition to their approach to put the bill's passage in doubt, prompting President Donald Trump to publicly pressure holdouts on Twitter this weekend.

The revised bill includes new provisions that would steer more federal funding to Alaska, Arizona and Kentucky. All three states are home to pivotal GOP swing votes who either have opposed or expressed concerns with the bill — Sens. John McCain, Rand Paul and Lisa Murkowski. However, Democrats said Senate Republicans are using misleading numbers to obscure massive funding cuts still in the Graham-Cassidy plan.

Under the revised text, the bill's authors now project increases in federal funding for Arizona (14 percent), Kentucky (4 percent) and Alaska (3 percent), which would have seen declines under the previous version, according to a leaked analysis from Trump's health department. In particular, Murkowski's home state would uniquely benefit from Sec. 129, which allows the state with the highest separate poverty guideline — Alaska — to receive a 25 percent hike in federal matching funds for Medicaid.

McCain came out against the Graham-Cassidy plan on Friday, and Paul has sharply criticized the plan for preserving too much of Obamacare's taxes and insurance regulations. GOP leaders have aggressively courted Murkowski, who voted against a previous repeal bill in July and has withheld support for Graham-Cassidy. On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz said he doesn’t support the plan and suggested fellow conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also opposed it.

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