News broke Tuesday that 6th District Rep. Bill Cassidy will announce his candidacy for Senate Wednesday.
While Congress has been off last week and this week for their annual April recess, Cassidy has spent some of his time off here in Baton Rouge.
Cassidy recently co-sponsored the Defund Obamacare Act, which is part of the Republican handling of the Affordable Care Act three years after the healthcare overhaul was signed into law.
CASSIDY: As long as Obama is president, clearly the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed, but there are portions of it that there is a gathering understanding need to be repealed, number one. And number two, if you’re one of those middle income families who suddenly found that you could not afford coverage for your husband and your children because of this law, wouldn’t you want that portion repealed? That’s our effort. You draw attention to it, you build up momentum and maybe not the whole thing but maybe those parts which are particularly troublesome.
WESTERMAN: One of the hot-button issues down here in Louisiana as of right now is Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act. But in light of some recent developments, including Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Scott of Florida agreeing to expand Medicaid and, of course, the Arkansas deal that sort of, if it goes through, might offer some flexibility. Taking all of this into consideration, has your mind changed at all about what you think is best for Louisianians on the issue?
CASSIDY: I’ve never that the state of Louisiana should or should not expand Medicaid. What I’ve always said is that it’s not free money as some people do. But let’s look at the different situation. It’s the Kaiser Family Foundation study that says it’s such a wonderful deal for the states. Under that a state like New York will save $33 billion state dollars if they accept the expansion. That same study shows that Louisiana it will cost our taxpayer $1.2-$1.8 billion over ten years. It looks like that’s going to be a significant strain, that there’ll be more cuts to higher education to help finance it. So ultimately it is the governor’s call but I will say it’s not free money. There’s absolutely going to be a cost.
WESTERMAN: Now you’ve been working on some private health insurance reforms, can you tell me how your idea would work within the Affordable Care Act?
CASSIDY: So first, just in case your listeners don’t know, I still see patients at Earl K. Long hospital; patients who are underinsured or uninsured. That’s been my life’s work for 24 years and I’ve just noticed that folks, whatever their income level, will still make the right decision for them financially. They are good people. They just happen not to have insurance.
WESTERMAN: Cassidy’s proposal would be to give customers more flexibility with what they do with their healthcare subsidies - either pay it toward insurance premiums or put the money aside in a health savings account. But if you’re not getting a subsidy from anywhere because you’re still outside the Medicaid eligibility limits, the policy doesn’t apply.
CASSIDY: Next part of this conversation, if you will, if you saw Ben Carson speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, he’s a gentleman who’s the chairman of the Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, he said, “You know? We ought to give a health savings account with a catastrophic policy to everybody on the day that they are born.” Our plan is kind of like that, where everybody would get that safety net health savings account, with a pharmaceutical coverage and a catastrophic policy, they get added to their own money or their employers money, buy a better policy, in their mind a better policy, or they could just save up that health savings account like my family tries to do so that over time we have a bigger account. It’s that sort of program that encourages self-sufficiency and still provides that safety net. It’s that sort of program that encourages self-sufficiency and still provides a safety net.