EDITORIAL: Obamacare debate is tiresome, but toxic GOP Graham-Cassidy offer demands attention

We have long been critics of Obamacare, pointing out that without express and extensive regulation and market controls, it was the recipe for fiscal disaster it has proved itself to be. But every single option that Republicans have presented is far, far worse than what Obamacare provides for now. Graham-Cassidy is nothing more than pure partisan poison

Just like you, we’re fatigued from the endless political battle over health care, but the issue is too critical to ignore right now.

While the evidence has clearly shown that every Republican plan to repeal Obamacare would result in higher costs and less service for individuals, for taxpayers and for providers, partisan extremists and President Donald Trump persist.

The latest Graham-Cassidy bill is not only little better than the failed measures that have recently come before it, it’s actually worse for Aurora residents and all of Colorado.

An independent study released this week shows that this newest repeal measure would cause an overall reduction in federal health insurance funding of $215 billion through 2026. Colorado, and states like it, would be hit especially hard because they expanded Medicaid roles under Obamacare. The state would have to either make up the difference in billions of dollars in lost Medicaid revenue, or throw people off the program.

Newer analyses reveal that the partisan hit to Colorado could result in billions of dollars of lost federal dollars that would be shifted to states like Texas and Georgia. Gov. John Hickenlooper said Tuesday that it would be financially impossible for state taxpayers to make up the difference. Immediately, rates for older Coloradans and those with pre-existing conditions would skyrocket.

It doesn’t matter whether you think providing health care to poor and poorer Colorado residents is a good or just cause, every Coloradan will pay for the change.

Under Colorado law, hospitals cannot refuse emergency treatment for those who cannot pay. Hospitals will simply pass the costs of treating an increase in indigent patients onto insurance companies. They, in turn, will hike premiums even more than they already have.

No expert disagrees with the economics of providing preventative health care to the poor as a way of saving net health care dollars by keeping sick people out of exorbitantly expensive emergency rooms.

But that’s only the beginning of bad news for Colorado should Congress approve the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

Also hard hit will be those ill residents and even those who aren’t ill but have been treated for cancer and other similar, curable ailments. Those consumers will be charged huge premiums that they are protected from by Obamacare. The American Medical Association and AARP have both ardently made clear that so-called high-risk state pools used to subsidize outrageous premiums for high-risk consumers will fall far short of making insurance affordable for most of these people.

It means that hospitals will end up providing massive amounts of indigent care and passing those costs onto healthy consumers. Of course an option would be for sicker Americans unable to get or afford quality group insurance to just be sick and die. An alternative would be endless bankruptcies that only lead to providers taking a loss and passing it on to paying consumers.

And it’s not just those Americans who are sick that need to fear this bill. Groups like the AMA and AARP have sounded alarms that Graham-Cassidy would result in huge premium hikes for healthy adults ages 50-65, the earliest Americans can qualify for Medicare. Protections built into Obamacare spread the cost of providing care to middle-aged Americans across the spectrum of consumers, similar to how insurance companies balance risk. Hiking premiums for that age group would force medium and small businesses to either end providing expensive coverage for all employees or compel them to illegally get rid of or avoid hiring older employees.

We have long been critics of Obamacare, pointing out that without express and extensive regulation and market controls, it was the recipe for fiscal disaster it has proved itself to be. But every single option that Republicans have presented is far, far worse than what Obamacare provides for now. Graham-Cassidy is nothing more than pure partisan poison.

Republican senators, including Colo. Sen. Cory Gardner, should kill this fatally flawed bill and back a bi-partisan effort to stabilize Obamacare as the country searches for a real solution to America’s health care dilemma.