On Monday evening, CNN will air Bernie Sanders' Graham-Cassidy debate, a town hall style event in which Sanders, along with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, will debate Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, the sponsors of the much-maligned Graham-Cassidy health care bill that could face a vote in the Senate this week. Those wanting to watch this debate are probably clamoring to know event logistics, including what time it will start.
Sanders and Klobuchar will debate with Graham and Cassidy beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern on Monday night. CNN is sponsoring the town hall event and two of the network's anchors, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, will act as moderators. The town hall will last 90 minutes and will consist of the senators engaging in debates with each other, as well as taking questions from audience members.
In announcing the event, the network focused on the potentially impending vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, saying:
With a critical deadline looming, Graham and Cassidy, architects of the Republicans latest healthcare proposal, will debate Sanders and Klobuchar on the merits of the plan that would repeal and replace Obamacare.
The Graham-Cassidy bill constitutes the latest attempt by Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare. The critical deadline CNN referenced is Sept. 30 — this is the deadline by which the Senate must vote on the bill in order to secure passage with special budgetary rules, which allow approval with a simple majority as opposed to requiring filibuster-proof approval from 60 senators.
The Graham-Cassidy bill is hugely controversial: according to estimates from the Brookings Institution, using information from the Congressional Busget Office, it would likely cause approximately 21 million fewer people to be insured from 2020 through 2026, and an estimated 32 million fewer people to be insured from 2027 onward. The bill also rescinds many Obamacare provisions — eliminating tax credits for health care costs, ends Medicaid expansion, and introduces Medicaid funding caps — and ends marketplace insurance coverage for abortions. Moreover, the bill also allows states to opt out of rules that mandate the type of care that health plans must cover, including mental health services, substance abuse services, and maternity benefits.
Furthermore, while supporters claim that the bill does not allow states to allow insurers to refuse to cover those with pre-existing conditions, saying that states seeking to waive Obamacare regulations must demonstrate "how the state intends to maintain adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions," many argue that this language does not offer protection to those with pre-existing conditions. Indeed, experts suggested to Vox that the lack of a definition for "affordable coverage" makes it very possible that those with pre-existing conditions could be charged significantly more for health insurance if Graham-Cassidy is implemented.
On the flip side, Sanders has recently introduced a vastly different bill, known as the "Medicare for All Act of 2017," which, according to Salon, has the backing of 16 other Democrats. The bill proposes a single payer health system in which Americans would pay into a Medicare trust fund as opposed to paying insurance companies for health care coverage. The bill aims to provide health care to "every man, woman and child" in the United States. While according to NPR, the bill does not stand chance of passing under this Congress, it perhaps marks the beginning of a serious Democratic conversation on the concept of single payer health care.
Overall, the upcoming health care debate will certainly be interesting to watch, as senators with completely opposite approaches to health care in the United States make their cases for the American public (notably, Amy Klobuchar, the other Democrat participating in the debate, has not endorsed Sanders bill, though she has vocally condemned the Graham-Cassidy bill). If you wish to tune in and watch the debate unfold, you can watch the event directly on CNN at 9 p.m. tonight — and likely stream it online as well.