Louisiana's senators will play big role in future of GOP's health care bill

Louisiana's senators will play big role in future of GOP's health care bill

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana's two U.S. Senators will play a big role in whether the bill passed by House Republicans Thursday will become law and in what fashion.

"I ask does it pass the Jimmy Kimmel test. Will the child born with congenital heart disease be able to get everything she or he would need in that first year of life.  I want it to pass the Jimmy Kimmel test," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana.

Comedian Kimmel revealed his infant son's severe heart defect Monday in an emotional monologue on his late night talk show.

The Senate is expected to significantly alter the American Health Care Act, which made it out of the House in a close vote. Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate of 52 to 48, and Democrats have not shown a willingness to help them repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

"In terms of replacing Obamacare, this is the first step, but that's all it is, the first step. This law has a long way to go before it actually gets implemented.…Major revisions are going to be forthcoming," said FOX 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman.

Among other things, the bill as passed allows states to seek federal government permission to let insurers charge customers with pre-existing conditions higher premiums than other customers. And those states would have to set up high-risk pools with the help of federal funds for high-risk people without coverage or who cannot afford it.

"They can work. The high risk in Maine is working beautifully. It can work in other states," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana.

He said he is eager to vote on any legislation that would be better than the current health care law, and said he has heard complaints that the House bill is not perfect.

"I haven't read the bill yet, it's on my desk. I'm going to read it this weekend. But here's what I want in the bill: I want pre-existing conditions covered. I think most Americans feel strongly about that. I like the idea of tax credits to help people who can't afford health insurance to be able to afford it...I like the idea of reforming Medicaid," said Kennedy.

Cassidy, who is a physician, months ago proposed his own bill to replace the Affordable Care Act along with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Cassidy wants to make sure medical costs do not keep the seriously ill from necessary medical treatment.

"That they would receive all the services, even if they go over a certain amount. So, simple answer, I want to make sure folks get the care they need," Cassidy said.

"I would like for everybody in America to have access to affordable health care, but I don't want to hit the people of Louisiana, the people of America. We do not have enough money to give everybody in America gold standard health insurance and pay for it for them. We don't," said Kennedy.

And the bill passed by the House did not have a score from the Congressional Budget Office, which is the norm.

"Democrats and Republicans love to bicker in Washington D.C., but for generations the Congressional Budget Office has been the gold standard where everyone agrees upon the same set of facts and then argues about policy," Sherman said.

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