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Senator Cassidy Continues Pushing Health Care Reform

Wallis Watkins

Congress is in recess until September, so meanwhile, senators and representatives are back in their home states. On Wednesday, Senator Bill Cassidy talked health care in Baton Rouge. 

“The Senate failed to replace-repeal Obamacare in August,” he says.

Three different proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act went in front of the Senate this summer. Cassidy, a physician, voted in favor of all three. Ultimately, they each failed to pass.

Now, he’s working with Senator Lindsey Graham, a republican from South Carolina, to craft a different repeal and replace health care bill, one that would focus on “continuing the coverage, broadening the risk pool, lowering the cost of premiums - but at the same time, making the system more sustainable," he explains.

Under Governor John Bel Edwards, medicaid was expanded in Louisiana in July 2016. Since then, nearly 450,000 Louisianians have signed up for coverage.

Under the current system, Cassidy is concerned the cost to the state will eventually become unsustainable.

“In 2020," says Cassidy, "states will be responsible for 10% of whatever they’ve been drawing down from the federal government."

For Louisiana, Cassidy says that could mean $310 million per year.

The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities releases an analysis of the Cassidy-Graham bill today. According to their study, the bill would implement a block grant system for states to cover the cost of care for medicaid recipients.

Nick Albares is a senior policy analyst with the Louisiana Budget Project. He explains that grant "would be lower than the amount of money that states are receiving now and the cuts would grow over time.”

“Louisiana would see a cut of $2.3 billion in 2026 through Senator Cassidy’s bill" he says.

Cassidy says he hopes to bring the bill to a vote by the end of September.