BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In a discussion about the future of Affordable Care Act, Louisiana candidates for the U.S. Senate seat fell along predictable party lines.
Republicans called for the program to be canned, while Democrats looked toward reform and changes Wednesday during a forum hosted by the Louisiana Association of Health Plans.
"I believe Obamacare has been an abject failure. I would rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare," said Republican State Treasure John Kennedy.
Other Republicans echoed those calls to eliminate the program.
"I'm for repeal anyway we can do it - step by step or let's take it in total," said U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany. R-Lafayette.
"The Affordable Car Act is not affordable and it will collapse under its own weight if we don't repeal it. We need to return to a market-based system," said U.S. Congressman John Fleming, R-Minden.
"If it cannot be repealed, then we need to fix it," said former Louisiana congressman Joseph Cao.
The Democrats were more forgiving of Obamacare, saying the program was in need of reform.
"We need an intervention in Louisiana - while I don't think Obamacare is perfect, I certainly think it does have its benefits. I believe there are plenty of Republicans that have and will say the same," said businessman Josh Pellerin.
"I'm not ready to repeal - if that's what you're looking for. I'll amend, I'll look at it, and I'll work with you guys," said Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell.
New Orleans lawyer and Democrat Caroline Fayard also called for reforming Obamacare, though praised one key component: Medicaid expansion in the state. So far, hundreds of thousands have enrolled in Louisiana since expansion began earlier this year under the new governor.
"Fundamentally, Medicaid expansion has been wonderful for Louisiana and we need to be promoting things that help people get coverage like Medicaid expansion," Fayard said.
The one candidate without a party affiliation on the panel, Troy Hebert, presented himself as the outsider. Hebert was the former commissioner of the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Criticizing Obamacare, Hebert called for less regulation of the healthcare industry and said individuals from both major parties were to blame for the Affordable Care Act.
"It was a Republican Supreme Court justice that allowed Obamacare to become the law of the land. So I think the Republicans are just as much to blame for Obamacare as the Democrats," Hebert said.
Former Col. Rob Maness was scheduled to participate in the forum, but was not in attendance.