La. congressional delegation still unsure about plan to replace Obamacare

WASHINGTON, DC (WAFB) - Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pouring through a bill to replace Obamacare, but not all of Louisiana's lawmakers are buying in.

Despite being a Republican plan, many members of Louisiana's Republican-majority Congressional delegation are hesitant about the proposal.

Some Louisiana lawmakers, like Sen. Bill Cassidy, would not commit to voting for the proposal without knowing two key pieces of information: how much the bill will cost and how many people will be insured. Those estimates will not be released by the Congressional Budget Office until later this week at the earliest.

The proposal includes many aspects that Republicans have been calling for.

"It repeals that which people hate about Obamacare - individual penalties, individual mandates," Cassidy said.

At the same time, the bill maintains widely liked aspects of Obamacare, including a rule allowing children to stay on their parents' plan through age 26. It also ensures that individuals cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

Cassidy worries that the proposal does not provide enough financial assistance to help lower-income earners trying to get care. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that compared to Obamacare, the bill could provide less help for the poor.

"If folks aren't covered because otherwise coverage is not made accessible - again, I worked at a charity hospital for 25 years - I want to make sure people who wish to be covered have the opportunity to be covered," Cassidy added.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, was critical of the price tag of Obamacare and said the new bill does not do enough to rein in costs.

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

Rep. Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, is the only member so far to come out steadfastly in support of the measure, describing it as a plan to put people back in charge of their healthcare.

The sole Democratic member of the Louisiana delegation, Rep. Cedric Richmond, defiantly criticized the bill altogether.

"The Republican repeal bill takes health care from the poorest of the poor and gives tax cuts to the richest of the rich," Richmond said in a statement.

For Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, the plan includes one big red flag: it would roll back Medicaid expansion over time.

Edwards signed an executive order at the start of his term, starting expansion in the Bayou State. Since then, more than 400,000 people have gotten coverage.

"We cannot ignore the impact that ending Medicaid Expansion will have on the health of our citizens and the state budget, and I am urging Congress to take this into consideration as this bill changes throughout the process," Edwards said in a statement.

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