Edwards opposes Cassidy, Graham health care bill

Saying he can’t support something that eliminates the Medicaid expansion program, Gov. John Bel Edwards has joined a bipartisan group of governors in opposing Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill.

“Right now, more than 430,000 working poor people in Louisiana have access to health insurance because we chose to bring our federal tax dollars back home,” Edwards says in a statement. “We’re saving lives, money, and investing in our people to ensure they are able to receive quality healthcare. Importantly, Louisiana’s uninsured rate has dropped to nearly 10 percent. Undoing this progress would negatively impact our citizens and our economy.”

The Democratic governor and colleagues in nine states penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking for renewed support of bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable.

Earlier, Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Rebekah Gee came out against the latest GOP bid to repeal the federal health care law. In a letter sent to Cassidy late Monday, Gee not only criticized the elimination of the Medicaid program but also said the harm created by the bill outweighs any benefit.

Cassidy, in a response issued earlier today, calls Gee’s concerns unfounded and accused her of echoing the sentiments of “a left wing think tank working to preserve Obamacare.”

“On the other hand, on one thing, the letter is correct,” he says. “Our proposal spends less money than Obamacare. We eliminate the penalties paid by individuals and business which do not conform to Obamacare mandates. If Dr. Gee thinks that more money is needed, she should suggest that these taxes be re-imposed on the state level. For the record, I oppose this as 58% of individual mandate penalties are paid by families earning less than $50,000 per year. I think these families should be helped, not penalized.”

As for Edwards, the governor says he’s working with Republicans and Democrats from across the country to promote a solution that would make health insurance more stable and affordable.

“We all agree that any plan must go through regular order and receive proper analysis from the Congressional Budget Office,” he says. “Rushing a piece of legislation of this significance through the process without proper vetting, thorough hearings or robust debate will leave us with unintended consequences that can be avoided.”

Read the full letter.

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