Gov. Edwards urges Cassidy, Kennedy to vote against senate's health reform bill

Gov. Edwards urges Cassidy, Kennedy to vote against senate's health reform bill

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Governor John Bel Edwards sent a letter to Louisiana's two U.S. senators stating that the senate's health care bill would be harmful to the state.
"The Senate health care bill will be a disaster for the state of Louisiana in more ways than one," Edwards told FOX 8 News.

Monday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office came out with its latest score, or estimate that 22-million Americans would be uninsured by 2026 if the legislation proposed by some senators becomes the law of the land.

"It makes me more concerned. I have been uncommitted and I remain uncommitted, I mean just down the line uncommitted, but it certainly makes me more concerned, it makes me want to explore this more," Sen. Cassidy stated soon after the CBO score of the bill.

Also Monday, a coalition of groups urged Louisiana resident to contact Cassidy and the state's junior U.S. Senator John Kennedy to emphasize the importance of retaining access to health coverage. Kennedy's office said he was still reviewing the proposed legislation.

"Our goal is to flood the lines," said Susan Todd, Executive Director of 504 HealthNet.

In his letter, Governor Edwards wrote, "I have very serious concerns about the healthcare reform bill currently under consideration in the Senate.  The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) cuts funding for health care to states that will result in loss of coverage for millions of Americans, punishes Louisiana for running a lean Medicaid program, and effectively eliminates or state's Medicaid expansion resulting in hundreds of thousands of Louisianans losing lifesaving access to primary and diagnostic care."

"The poorest of the poor already have Medicaid. These are the people who were caught. They don't make enough to buy insurance in the private market and their employers don't offer it," said the governor.

Republicans said the current Affordable Care Act, which was President Obama's signature law has driven up premiums, raised deductibles and sent insurers fleeing the ACA's federal insurance marketplace.

The GOP's bill offers subsidies, as well.

"The premium subsidies are a little bit more generous in the Senate bill than they are in the House Bill in the sense that they don't phase them out as quickly," said Dr. Walter Lane, a health economist at the University of New Orleans.

He said the problem remains that not enough healthy individuals have purchased coverage to offset the number of sick people who flooded the insurance marketplace.

"I don't see the Senate bill anything to solve that problem other than they do make health care cheaper or younger people," said Dr. Lane.

Todd said the ACA is not perfect.

"Yes, 100-percent things need to be fixed in the Affordable Care Act.  But the legislation currently in the Senate doesn't actually address those issues," she said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce likes what it sees in the senate bill.

It said the bill eliminates the employer mandate for coverage which kept small businesses for hiring workers and also repeals the health insurance tax and the medical device and tanning tax.

Dr. Lane believes many hospitals would feel the pain if the proposed legislation becomes law.

"One of the results of this plan if it goes into effect is you see more hospitals failing because hospitals are very tight and this is going to make things worse for them," said Dr. Lane.

Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer, Anthem, said the senate's bill helps by appropriating money for cost-sharing reduction payments and eliminating the health insurance tax.

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