Those on both sides of the aisle respond to ACA replacement legislation

ACA and Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some U.S. House of Representatives believe they have the right prescription for replacing the Affordable Care Act, but locally, views are mixed.

"Some things seem to be sugar-coated a bit, and when you actually dig into the facts you're not really sure that what they're saying is entirely accurate," said Matt Worden.

"The current trajectory for the Affordable Care Act, it doesn't matter if you're a supporter of it or are opposed to it, it is financially unsustainable," said Congressman Garret Graves, a Republican representing the Baton Rouge area.

Graves said in New Orleans Tuesday that he continues to pore over the voluminous measure.

"It certainly has components that I'm supportive of, it retains some of the components of the Affordable Care Act like pre-existing conditions, like allowing folks to keep their kids on insurance until they're 26," said Graves.

Still, he thinks the legislation does not go far enough.

"Some of the things that are lacking based upon our cursory review is that I don't think it does enough to really bend the cost-curve downward," said Graves.

When Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards took office last year, he embraced Medicaid expansion which the current federal law allows. And according to the Louisiana Department of Health, the number of working poor who have so far benefited from Medicaid expansion in the state is 405,142.

Under the legislation unveiled on Capitol Hill this week, Medicaid expansion would be rolled back.

"We don't need to be expanding a program that's failing and providing worse medical outcomes for the uninsured. There are better options that are out there and I think that expanding upon private-sector insurance options is going to be the better outcome," said Graves.

Democrats in the state see it differently.

"I know that there has been such great success with expansion with people now getting preventive care things like that instead of just heading off to the emergency rooms before they had no coverage," said State Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans, who is a member of the Legislature's Health and Welfare Committee.

Tax credits are part of the proposed ACA replacement legislation.

"If the state is then forced to take on their coverage and we're given some type of credit in return, calculating all of that and how that would work and seems pretty much confusing, and I can pretty much guarantee that the state would not end up on the winning end," Moreno stated.

Not only does the legislation eliminate the mandate that most Americans have health coverage, it would also eliminate the requirement that large employers provide coverage for their full-time workers.

"What needs to happen, and some of the things that we're pushing, is providing for more flexibility to where insurance is not necessarily linked to your employer. People change jobs. Find another venue where you can get insurance," Graves said.

"In my situation I put in over 40 hours a week, and that's a significant portion of my week and my day, and I have young kids at home. And when you make those sorts of sacrifices, health care should come along with it," Worden said.

Rep. Graves wants to see more done to make health care costs more transparent and to drive down prescription medication costs.

"Where else in your life do you go in and not have a clue if you're going to spend $10  or you're going to spend $1,000?  Health care costs are so opaque, you don't have any idea how much you're going to be paying, you don't know if there's a better deal somewhere else," he said.

FOX 8 News asked Governor John Bel Edwards to comment on the new legislation while he was in New Orleans Tuesday but he declined, stating that he would talk about it at a later time.

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