Refuting some reports, Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger said Friday that North Carolina would gain, not lose, federal money under the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Pittenger said the state would gain $7 billion in new health care funding under the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, co-sponsored by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
The Senate could vote on the bill next week, although Friday’s announcement by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, that he opposes the measure made passage less likely.
Pittenger said he based his estimates on estimates from Lousiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and a study by Blue Cross Blue Shield, a giant insurer which opposes the bill.
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Starting in 2020, the bill would replace federal insurance premium subsidies now available under the Affordable Care Act as well as Medicaid funding with block grants to the states.
“The overall distributions are a net for North Carolina of $7 billion,” Pittenger told the Observer. “That’s the bottom line.”
He said the state will benefit from a redistribution of Medicaid money from states that expanded the program under Obamacare. North Carolina did not expand it.
Pittenger’s statement comes day after the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that Graham-Cassidy would cost North Carolina nearly $8.2 billion by 2026.
Two other groups forecast smaller losses. Avalere, a Washington-based health care consulting firm, said North Carolina would see a net loss of $1 billion by 2026 under the bill, and more in subsequent years. And the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reported about the same loss in 2026.
Pittenger’s office said the proposed block grants would be “based on the percentage of population within a certain range of the federal poverty line.” Chris Sloane, a senior manager with Avalera, said his group’s estimates are based on a larger population that now benefits from the ACA.
And, he said, the Cassidy numbers don’t appear to count the losses from a new cap on Medicaid benefits the Graham bill would establish.
Gary Claxton, a vice president with Kaiser, said its estimates also are based on different assumptions than Cassidy’s.
Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for American Bridge, a Democratic group, pointed to a study by the liberal Center for American Progress that claims 1.1 million North Carolinians would see reduced coverage under the bill.
“Robert Pittenger knows this,” Bates said. “He’s just putting his political party above North Carolinians’ healthcare.”