(WAFB) - Some Baton Rouge families were glued to their televisions Tuesday, watching the Senate vote on whether to begin the healthcare debate.
"It's just unbelievable. The stress, I could hardly sleep last night," said Angela Lorio, the mother of a young child with a tracheotomy.
Her 4-year-old son, named John Paul, relies on Medicaid to pay for his health services. She worries what any healthcare overhaul could mean for the future of John Paul's treatment and care. "If we didn't have our home nursing and our care attendants, we wouldn't make it," said Lorio.
On Capitol Hill, the Vice President was called in to cast the tie-breaking vote, opening debate on the future of the healthcare law, which could include overhauling Medicaid. Both of Louisiana's senators voted in favor of debate, but as discussions get underway, much of the focus will be on Sen. Bill Cassidy.
While Sen. John Kennedy is expected to fall in line with other Republicans in voting for repeal and replacement efforts, Cassidy is a bit of a wildcard and could be key in whether reforms are adopted. Republicans have a thin majority in the Senate.
A former practicing physician, Cassidy has sometimes fallen out of line with his Republican counterparts during healthcare discussions, criticizing the bill brought forward by the Senate Republican leadership in addition to offering two plans of his own.
As a result, Cassidy is getting pressure from both sides of the political debate. Recently, the Democratic party launched a web advertisement, showcasing a Baton Rouge family helped by Medicaid and Medicaid expansion.
Meanwhile, Kennedy is applying pressure to fellow Republicans to vote for repeal of Obamacare, regardless of if there is a replacement plan lined up. Cassidy ran on repealing the healthcare bill in 2014.
"If you're a senator and you've voted 40 times to repeal Obamacare and you ran on that issue, and you've given hundreds, if not thousands of speeches on how Obamacare is bad, and you've now decided that you love Obamacare, that is your right, but you ought to stand up before God and country and say so," said Kennedy.
Kennedy also said during a recent interview that he supports the Senate majority leader's overhaul plan in its current form.
For Lorio, now anxious to see how the debate unfolds, she had a simple plea for lawmakers: healthcare is about more than politics.
"It's not about Democrat or Republican," she said. "It's about people. It's about kids with disabilities."
Following Tuesday's vote launching debate, Cassidy released a statement calling the vote the "first step" toward replacing the Affordable Care Act. He said any replacement must fulfill "President Trump's campaign pledges to maintain coverage, protect those with preexisting conditions, and lower premiums without mandates."
The debate over healthcare now begins. Whether any overhaul or replacement plan will gain necessary traction to pass in the Senate remains unclear.