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Louisiana Senate Candidates Take On Obamacare

Eight Senate candidates sat down Wednesday to talk health insurance and delivery in Baton Rouge at a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Health Plans.

The consensus: Obamacare is flawed. But how badly? 

State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican, didn’t parse his words.

“Obamacare sucks," he said, "we need to repeal it.”

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat, says he’s open to fixing it, “but I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to repeal it.”

Former 2nd District Congressman Joseph Cao was the only Republican to support the House version of health reform in 2009. But he voted against the final passage of the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that “the bill itself does not have the provisions to prevent federal funding to go into abortion funding.”

Candidates were asked about one reform that would allow people with individual policies - those not covered by an employer - to deduct their health care premium on their taxes.

Troy Hebert, an Independent and former Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner, says that’s just a band-aid for bad policy.

“It's a no-brainer to support a tax deduction," he says, "but this is where the politicians trick us.  You’re paying too much for health insurance, so they’re going to give you a 30% break. But the problem is the other 70% we have to pay.”

Businesses are able to deduct the premium. Democrat Josh Pellerin agrees it’s not the solution, but it could help level the playing field.

“I don't think it's the answer.  It think it’s a step in the right direction,” he says.

Caroline Fayard, a Democrat, sees it as a way to "incentivize people to get coverage, get adequate coverage, quality coverage." 

Half of Louisiana’s current delegation in Congress are physicians, two of which are running for this Senate seat.

3rd District Congressman Charles Boustany has long opposed the law, saying he's “voted to repeal Obamacare some sixty times.”

And 4th District Congressman John Fleming says it has devastated jobs across America.

“It’s largely responsible, in my opinion, for our flat economy.  There is no fixing Obamacare,” he says.

Louisiana’s next Senator will serve alongside Republican Bill Cassidy, who’s also a physician.