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August 15th, 2018

Insight

Cassidy-Graham: An inspired policy idea that came out of the blue

Ed Rogers

By Ed Rogers The Washington Post

Published Sept. 25, 2017

Cassidy-Graham: An inspired policy idea that came out of the blue
For months, I've been worried about the compelling simplicity of the Democrats' single-payer health-care message. Since President Donald Trump was elected, Senate Republicans have been floundering somewhere between Obamacare and nothing. But an 11th-hour rally led by Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has brought forth an inspired policy idea that is fresh and different.


The Cassidy-Graham bill does a number of things that are good for the Republican Party and good for health care in America.


First, it is a good answer to the Democrats' bumper sticker call for "single-payer." Rather than be responsible for a complex, tedious Obamacare-lite where Washington would remain the primary decision-maker, Republicans can now offer the idea of "local control" over a lot of health-care spending. Cassidy-Graham is Republicanism in its purest form: disempowering Washington and returning those powers back to where the framers intended - the states. Republicans have been talking about it for decades but doing very little to make it happen. Will it be Trump who leads us into a new era of power transferring to the states?


Second, if you want to drain the swamp, the Cassidy-Graham bill would be a huge first step. The swamp, actually, consists of vast pools of money that swamp-dwellers survive on in Washington. If you want to drain the swamp, then funnel the money out of Washington. When the money leaves Washington, the swamp-dwellers lose their sustenance.

Third, and maybe most important, the Cassidy-Graham bill would, for the first time ever, put some sort of quantifiable cap on an entitlement. Entitlement spending is America's economic cancer. Under Cassidy-Graham, the predictability and utility of Medicaid costs would become more clear, perhaps setting a new precedent on how we rein in our out-of-control spending for other entitlements.


As Republicans close in on securing the votes needed to pass Cassidy-Graham, Democrats and special interest groups have gone into full panic mode, pulling out all of their usual tricks and scare tactics. Which, by the way, is all the more reason Republicans should rally together to pass the bill. Obamacare is broken and near its deathbed - why keep it alive?


As the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote, "the choice Republicans face isn't between Graham-Cassidy or some bipartisan beau ideal. Their choice is to pass their own bill, which now means Graham-Cassidy, or fail again and cede the health-care advantage to the single-payer wing of the Democratic Party."


Without much warning, a big idea has snuck up on us. Perhaps its time has come. No tactic should be left off the table to assemble the 50 votes needed in the Senate.

Ed Rogers is a a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991."


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