Healthcare Reform: What Sen. Bill Cassidy said vs. how he voted

(WAFB) - Despite being viewed as a wildcard throughout much of the Obamacare repeal debate, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy fell in line with most of his GOP colleagues when it came time to vote.

Throughout the months leading up to the week of votes, Cassidy said the status quo was not working. However, at the same time, he criticized the healthcare plans of Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate, and even crafted two rewrites of his own.

As a result, Cassidy made national headlines. One Bloomberg headline read The Senate Can't Pass Health Care Without This Man. Politico readers were invited to Meet the GOP senator who wants to bridge the Obamacare divide.

He even made a pit stop on late night, doing an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live after creating the term the #JimmyKimmelTest to describ what he wanted to see in a healthcare bill. Kimmel defined the term to mean "no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can't afford it."

"We've got to fulfill President Trump's contract, lowering premiums with coverage that passes the Jimmy Kimmel test," Cassidy told Kimmel.

However, any criticisms and concerns he had about the leadership bills were apparently ignored when it came time to vote. Cassidy cast 'yes' votes for all three repeal proposals brought to the Senate floor.

When asked if he was simply voting along the party line, Cassidy denied it, saying he was "moving to move the process forward."

The first vote was on the Senate leadership's bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).

Back in January, Cassidy tweeted that "If we repeal #Obamacare and #ReplaceNow, no one will lose their coverage." Despite that promise, he still voted in favor of the BCRA.

Just before the vote, a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicated that under the BCRA, 22 million more people would be uninsured by 2026. Cassidy said he questioned the CBO numbers.

Next, the Senate considered a bill that would repeal most of Obamacare without a replacement plan ready to go.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday on July 9, Cassidy called repeal without a replacement plan a "non-starter" and explained that it will mean "uncertainty in the insurance markets, premiums will rise for middle class families, it gives all the power to people who actually don't believe in President Trump's campaign pledges."

Even so, Cassidy voted in favor of the bill.

Finally, in the early hours of Friday morning, Cassidy cast one more vote in support of undoing Obamacare. This time, it was for a plan nicknamed "skinny repeal." Forecasted to raise premiums by 20 percent next year and for several years into the future, its impact directly conflicted with one of Cassidy-stated goals: reducing premiums in the insurance market.

"We have to lower those premiums so that if another child is born, that child can get the care she needs," Cassidy told Kimmel during his appearance in May.

In an interview, Cassidy explained his votes as a case of the end justifying the means. He wanted to get something passed, he said, in hopes of starting negotiations with the House on something better.

"I'm voting for things that move along the process which convince Democrats they need to cooperate with Republicans in order to get something done," he said. He further explained that he hoped those negotiations would set the stage "for something like the 'Graham-Cassidy' coming on board."

"Graham-Cassidy" is one of the senator's own replacement ideas, which involved sending block gr ants to the states to craft their own healthcare programs. Of course, even if the "Skinny Repeal" had passed the Senate, there was no guarantee that they would have actually entered negotiations with the House in a conference committee. If a conference committee had happened, there was also no guarantee that the result would look anything like what Cassidy wanted.

In voting in favor of all three Obamacare repeal and overhaul amendments, Cassidy joined his Louisiana counterpart John Kennedy, who also supported the measures.

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