Politics & Government

Latest Senate health care bill could cost NC more than $8 billion

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday. AP

North Carolina would lose more than $8 billion in federal health care money under the latest Republican bill, according to a new report issued Thursday.

The Kaiser Family Foundation said North Carolina would lose nearly $8.2 billion by 2026 under the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. The U.S. Senate could vote on the measure next week.

Overall, the study says the bill would result in $160 billion less federal health care funding than under current law from 2020-2026. North Carolina is one of 35 states projected to lose money.

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. That would cost North Carolina $5.7 billion, according to Kaiser.

The bill also would cap benefits under Medicaid, the program for the poor, elderly and disabled. Currently there’s no cap. That change would cost North Carolina $2.46 billion, according to the report.

Some states would win while others would lose.

California would lose $56 billion over the period, according to Kaiser, while Texas would gain $34 billion. North Carolina would lose $5.7 billion, a 14 percent reduction.

South Carolina stands to gain $4.5 billion, an increase of 39 percent.

Advocates say the bill could represent the last chance to repeal the law known as Obamacare, which Republicans have long pledged to do. Because of parliamentary rules, Republicans need only 50 Senate voted to pass the bill if they do it by the end of next week. After that it would take 60 votes.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., supports the bill, according to a spokeswoman. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., has called it “a good step.”

“This bill doesn’t solve it, it just puts it on footing that I think is more likely to get us to a solution, through other measures that are going to require 60 votes,” he told McClatchy this week.

Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of Lincoln County told the Observer he supports it.

“It’s a great concept,” he said. “I would rather have complete control of the social safety net given to the states....I’m hopeful that the Senate can pass this bill and keep the conversation alive.”

Staff writer Brian Murphy of McClatchy’s Washington bureau contributed.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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