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Senators Cassidy and Kennedy Turn Attention to Healthcare

Louisiana’s senior Senator, Republican Bill Cassidy, presented a possible replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act Monday. 

The Patient Freedom Act of 2017 would let individuals bank tax credits into health savings accounts. 

“We would use tax credits that would go to those that are eligible that would go into an account that would be, if the patient did nothing, she would have a health savings account, which would be pre-funded, catastrophic coverage and a pharmacy benefit,” explains Cassidy.

Cassidy says states could also choose to keep the ACA.

“I think it’s a terrible decision," says Cassidy, "but this legislation would allow a state to do so.”

Meanwhile, Louisiana’s junior Senator, Republican John Kennedy, was attacking state spending on Medicaid. In a statement released Monday, US Senator Kennedy claimed that "the rising cost of Medicaid is why TOPS has been cut."

Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rebekah Gee, said the opposite is true.

“Because of the Medicaid expansion," she explains, "last year we saved 67 million tax dollars to fund TOPS specifically, and $117 million to fund other state programs.”

Kennedy also blamed state Medicaid spending for Baton Rouge traffic problems and low pay for teachers.

“What we need to do is stop measuring success in the Medicaid program by how much money we’re spending and start measuring success by whether our people are getting any better.”

Governor John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid in Louisiana in January 2016. Since then, 385,000 people have enrolled in the program. Dr. Gee says of those “50,000 people have had a primary care visit, so that’s the first step in improving our state’s health outcomes.”