Graham-Cassidy bill not going to a vote

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake/R-Arizona

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U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake/R-Arizona

KINGMAN – Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is not giving up on efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, throwing his support behind the Graham-Cassidy health care reform proposal that was scheduled for a vote next week on Capitol Hill.

“Given the choice between Arizona or Washington deciding how federal helath care dollars are spent in the state, I’ll take Arizona every day of the week,” Flake said Monday on a Tucson television show.

The Graham-Cassidy proposal repeals the structure of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and replaces it with a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care.

However, on Tuesday Republicans decided against bringing the Graham-Cassidy bill to the floor for a vote, effectively killing the push to repeal Obamacare for the foreseeable future.

It takes Washington out of the decision process and gives states “significant latitude” over how the dollars are used to best take care of unique health care needs of patients in each state, Flake said.

“The Graham-Cassidy plan puts that decision-making power back in the hands of the states, giving them the flexibility needed to innovate and lower premiums that have skyrocketed in Arizona, while maintaining protections to ensure access to quality, affordable care for those who want it, including individuals with pre-existing conditions,” he said.

The grant dollars would replace federal money currently being spent on Medicaid expansion, Obamacare tax credits, cost-sharing reduction and the basic health plan dollars.

Graham-Cassidy eliminates the inequity of three states receiving 37 percent of Obamacare funds and brings all states to funding parity by 2026, Flake said.

For example, Pennsylvania has nearly double the population of Massachusetts, but receives 58 percent less Obamacare money than Massachusetts.