Graham-Cassidy insurer bailout could turn Texas blue

Graham-Cassidy insurer bailout could turn Texas blue
© Greg Nash

The latest version of TrumpCare, RyanCare and McConnellCare — all of which were epically unpopular and politically disastrous for Republicans — is Graham-CassidyCare, proposed by Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Overnight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (R-La).

All of these disastrous plans would constitute a GOP bailout of the insurance industry, which would lead to huge premium increases for many voters, poorer coverage for many patients, and millions of Americans losing their insurance coverage.

In the long run, these GOP attacks against affordable health care will give a huge boost to the “Medicare for all” plan offered by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (I-Vt.) and others. In the 2018 midterms, this GOP bailout of insurers will hurt a long list of Republicans, including and especially many running in red states, where Republican governors and Republican-friendly insurance commissioners would allow the largest premium increases.


Senate Republicans are desperately trying to schedule a vote before a full Congressional Budget Office analysis of Graham-CassidyCare can be finished and released, and before the bill can be considered in congressional hearings.


There is no way that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.) can vote for Graham-CassidyCare at this time, as a matter of principle, after his brilliant speech calling for the Senate to return to the regular order of processing legislation only after thoughtful and bipartisan consideration. My hope is that McCain votes no and gives the same speech again. 

Ignorance may be bliss in many aspects of life, but not for Republicans running for the Senate and House in 2018 and 2020. This latest version of the GOP insurance industry bailout would do so much damage to so many voters that it could prove to be a long suicide note for many Republicans, who will own every insurance premium increase in every red and blue state for the coming years.

There is a hugely important Senate race in Texas brewing between Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE and Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who will be a particularly strong and appealing candidate. There is also a race for governor of Texas in 2018. Behind the scenes, there is a growing move to draft a certain particularly strong candidate, who I will not name here, to run against Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott. Stay tuned! 

If the GOP insurance industry bailout is enacted into law in any form, many Texans will be slammed by sky-high increases in insurance premiums. When the comprehensive CBO report is released, we will be better able to estimate the number of Texans who will be madder than hell at Ted Cruz for supporting this bill.

Many Texans who supported Trump, who is already unpopular in Texas, will be hit with a huge premium increase and ask: “What the hell is Trump doing to me?” There will be many Texans with pre-existing conditions who will face punishing new increases in premiums. Some will face severe economic hardship. Others will lose their insurance coverage entirely. Many of them will register their displeasure with Cruz and vote for O’Rourke on Election Day 2018.

There will be moms in Texas who learn that their maternal child care support will be reduced or ended entirely. What kind of political party hurts moms and kids the way Republicans in Washington propose to do, with the GOP insurance industry bailout? Will female GOP senators support or resist these actions that will lead to higher premiums, and lesser coverage, for women and men whether they voted for Clinton or Trump?

Many Texans will join voters in red and blue states across the nation when they learn that their cost for pharmaceuticals rises even higher after this horrible bill is passed, and will vote for Democrats like O’Rourke, and against Republicans like Cruz.

There will be Texas seniors residing in nursing homes who will learn that Medicaid will no longer rescue them from financial hardship in the central issue in their lives: where they live. Many of these Texas seniors will vote for O’Rourke reject Cruz in 2018.

The list goes on.

The political hidden ball in the latest proposed GOP bailout of the insurance industry is how much damage this plan will do to Republicans in red states with Republican governors and Republican-friendly insurance commissioners.

While insurers pocket the premium increases that the GOP bailout will bring, the political winners will be congressional Democrats like Beto O’Rourke, who battle against them, and the big losers will be congressional Republicans like Ted Cruz, who battle for them and will be punished by voters at the polls.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.