How the Media Handled Graham-Cassidy’s Implosion

You know what they say in Washington: Another day, another media cycle perpetually dominated by debates on health care policies that probably won’t be passed.

In a last ditch effort, Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham tried to push their co-authored conservative health care plan through Congress before the Sept. 30 budget deadline.

The Cassidy-Graham bill died before it ever arrived on the Senate floor. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate Republicans would not vote on the legislation before Saturday, an announcement that came less than 24 hours after moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced that she would not support the proposal.

The Cassidy-Graham bill aimed to cut health care costs by allowing multiple risk pools, which would have separated sick and healthy people into different premium categories, according to Axios.

The plan also delegated more power to localities, letting states decide insurer charges, the federal cap for out-of-pocket prices and how much to charge patients with pre-existing conditions.

Much like the previous health care policy implosions, the truth in the implications of these measures is obscured by partisan posturing and general polarization.

“Even if their new health plan passes, it is ultimately doomed,” Doctor Brian Hufford wrote for left-leaning CNBC just five hours before Graham-Cassidy imploded.

Hufford also wrote that we would have no problems with premiums if we all just succumbed to Medicare-for-all.

“This new effort fails to address the systemic problem at the heart of our health woes: the free market’s fundamental incompatibility with efficient and effective health care delivery,” Hufford wrote.

Conservative outlets like Fox News begged to differ.

“Cassidy-Graham is a worthy effort to pare back a bloated and inefficient federal government, sending health care dollars back to the states,” Liz Peek wrote in a piece condemning Sen. John McCain for his repeated “defection” on GOP health care plans. “McCain needs to adapt, or retire.”

In addition to criticizing the actual substance of the Cassidy-Graham bill, political pundits were sure to criticize or highlight problems with the roll-out of it too.

To quote AP’s Alan Fram, “The Republican drive to erase the Obama health care overhaul has gotten a huge boost from one of Washington’s perennial incentives: political necessity.”

And Washington, of course, is governed by the Trump administration’s third law of polarization: for every hyper-partisan instance of political posturing, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., why exactly bill mark-ups weren’t publicized, resulting in a heated answer from the senator against the secretive roll-out of the Cassidy-Graham bill, as well as Republican tactics.

On the flip side, right-leaning Townhall’s Cortney O’Brien called out Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., for admitting “he hasn’t read the language of it” despite the fact he had been “trashing the Graham-Cassidy bill all over town,” including in another interview with Camerota.

Polarized coverage and policy breakdowns aside, how should the media tackle the recent over-coverage of health care reform? The New York Times’ Ross Douthat argues that moving on is the best bet.

“Obamacare repeal has devoured the first year of the Trump presidency, with nothing to show for it,” Dauthat wrote. “The country has bigger problems than its insurance system. It’s time for both parties to act like it.”

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