GRAHAM-CASSIDY REPEAL BILL DEADLINE:

Time: D H M S

Yes, I know, I've completely ignored the Cassidy-Graham Hail Mary play...

...and believe me, it wasn't on purpose; I've simply been swamped the past couple of weeks with other stuff, and somehow I just never got around to writing anything up about it.

I should have, though. Everyone thinks the existential threat to the ACA was over back on July 28th, and now it's simply a matter of "stabilizing the market" and "stopping Trump from sabotaging Open Enrollment". For the most part this is true, but for whatever reason, Louisiana GOP Senator Bill Cassidy and South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham simply won't let it go already, and are insisting on trying one final, desperate Hail Mary play to squeeze through an ACA repeal/Trumpcare bill as the final seconds run out on the 2017 Fiscal Year (which ends September 30th).

Since I'm so late to the party on this and there's so little time to stop it, instead of my own explainer I'm going to simply crib a bit from former CMS head Andy Slavitt's USA Today column in which he gives the lowdown:

There is competition — yet another partisan effort to repeal the ACA, led by Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Nevada. Though it is out of touch with public sentiment, their proposal has one new thing its sponsors are hoping will make a difference — financial payoffs to the states of senators whose votes they are courting.

The first draft of Graham-Cassidy-Heller looks like the same repeal-and-replace plans Americans soundly rejected in poll after poll. It would end both Medicaid for people slightly above the poverty line and tax credits for people buying coverage in the individual market, replacing both with a capped block grant that would gradually shrink until it disappeared altogether. The plan also makes deep cuts to Medicaid, weakens federal protections for people with preexisting conditions, and introduces Medicaid caps which limit the spending on low-income kids, seniors and people with disabilities.

But it’s not Graham-Cassidy-Heller’s unpopular policies that are expected to make a repeal effort successful. The secret weapon is a cynical redistribution of federal money from mostly urban, blue states that have expanded Medicaid to rural, red states that did not.

An analysis from the Center on Budget Policy Priorities of an early version of the bill estimates what this will mean for states. Nine states would see their funding cut by 50% or more compared to what their Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies would otherwise be. These states include expected conservative targets like New York, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts, but also North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

Yet somehow Maine, Alaska, Nevada and West Virginia are almost entirely protected from these cuts in the early years (although every state would be hard hit in the long run or in the event of a recession or public health emergency like Hurricane Harvey.) What do those states have in common? Each has Republican senators who either voted against or strongly considered voting against the last Senate repeal bill.

The repeal effort doesn’t seek to solve the problem of covering more people or making health care more affordable for American families. If assessed by the Congressional Budget Office, it will surely show many millions losing coverage and higher costs for millions more. Instead they are dividing the country into winners and losers (or losers and bigger losers) to achieve a more straightforward goal — finding the 50 Republican votes that, along with Vice President Pence as the tiebreaker, will give them a Senate win.

Graham, who spent some of August in Arizona on shuttle diplomacy, believes the path to success is to appeal to “25 governors” who will make out better under his plan. When the formula for redistributing federal dollars is finalized, my conversations with sponsors suggest, it will reserve discretion for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to adjust the formula as needed to get these states — and their senators — on board.

In short, the Cassidy-Graham bill (Slavitt throws third co-sponsor Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller in there as well) is another big pile of #BCRAP, this time designed specifically to steal primarily from blue states to shovel money into states which didn't...before eventually screwing those states over as well.

How likely is this to quietly sneak through? On the one hand, it supposedly hasn't gotten much traction; after 7 1/2 years, most of the GOP seems to finally be ready to move onto the next way of harming the American people...including Donald Trump himself, who seemingly reversed course and shat all over Mitch McConnell & Paul Ryan last Friday:

Republicans, sorry, but I've been hearing about Repeal & Replace for 7 years, didn't happen! Even worse, the Senate Filibuster Rule will....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2017

...never allow the Republicans to pass even great legislation. 8 Dems control - will rarely get 60 (vs. 51) votes. It is a Repub Death Wish!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2017

Republicans must start the Tax Reform/Tax Cut legislation ASAP. Don't wait until the end of September. Needed now more than ever. Hurry!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 8, 2017

In addition, with not one, not two, not three but potentially four hurricanes to deal with and only 19 days to work with, the odds are pretty slim that McConnell or Ryan are gonna want to deal with "Obamacare Repeal!" yet again...not to mention that 2018 Open Enrollment begins in just 50 days anyway; the carriers would go batshit insane if there was another major disruption/uncertainty factor thrown into the mix this late in the game.

On the other hand, no one ever lost money betting that the modern Republican Party would do the reasonable, sensible, decent thing:

On Monday, two plucky Senate Republicans are set to embark on one final madcap effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have promised to introduce a piece of practical, compromise legislation that will simply let states decide whether to keep the Affordable Care Act or ditch it for something they prefer.

“It would leave in place taxes on the wealthy, taking that money and giving it back to governors to come up with better health care,” Graham has told CNN. “If you like Obamacare, you can keep it. If you want to replace it, you can.”

This modest pitch is wildly misleading. Graham and Cassidy have been shopping versions of their bill for months now, and submitted a detailed version as an amendment in July. As it stands, the legislation would make it virtually impossible for dozens of states to continue operating Obamacare as we know it without kicking in unrealistic amounts of their own money. That’s because, in the short term, the law is designed to penalize states that embraced the ACA while rewarding those that resisted it. Further down the line, the legislation simply zeroes out all of Obamacare’s spending, a de facto repeal of the entire program that doesn’t include a replacement. As policy, it’s a bit like walking into somebody’s house, lighting the whole ground floor on fire, then telling them, “Hey, you can keep living here—if you like it.”

They're supposedly deadly serious about releasing the bill language tomorrow, then giving the CBO a week or so to score it, and then attempting to cram in enough "debate" over the bill to supposedly satisfy John McCain (who only voted against the July #BCRAP bill because of the way it was rushed through, not because he gave a crap about the bill itself)...and then to presumably hold a Senate vote on it with a day or two to spare at the end of September.

At that point, assuming it passed, it would kick back over to the House, where due to there only being a couple of days left to pull a rabbit out of their hat, Paul Ryan would have to tell his flying monkeys to either take it or leave it exactly as is. If they took it, boom, it gets rushed over to Trump for him to scribble his name in crayon (presumably with a digital clock counting down to 0:00:01, "24"-style), and there you have it: Obamacare would be repealed, millions of people would be screwed, Trump would get to do a victory dance as he achieved his lifelong dream of destroying millions of people's lives and getting the ultimate revenge on a black guy at the same time.

Here's more info about Graham-Cassidy from Indivisible. Spread the word, make sure EVERYONE is aware that they're trying one more time to kill the ACA; call Your Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to vote NO on Graham-Cassidy if it manages to come up for a vote.

Honestly not sure what else to do at this point.