BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A day after late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel slammed Sen. Bill Cassidy, calling him a liar, Louisiana's senior senator is firing back.
Kimmel said the so-called "Graham-Cassidy" healthcare bill, which aims to replace the Affordable Care Act, does not fulfill the promises the Republican senator made during an appearance on his show back in May.
"Not only did Bill Cassidy fail the Jimmy Kimmel test, he failed the Bill Cassidy test. He failed his own test," said Kimmel.
Cassidy coined the phrase "Jimmy Kimmel Test" when he first appeared on the show, shortly after Kimmel announced his infant son was born with a heart condition. The test would ensure that patients would not be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition like his son's birth defect.
Cassidy said he wanted to pass the test, but on Tuesday night, Kimmel accused Cassidy of going back on his word. "This guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face," said Kimmel.
In an interview Wednesday, Cassidy defended his plan.
"The bill we're trying to get through will actually increase coverage, I think, relative to the status quo," Cassidy said. "There'll be people across the nation currently who currently have no benefits from Obamacare who will, because of this bill, receive benefits."
Kimmel said Cassidy promised the bill would not impose cap limits on lifetime amounts coverage. The healthcare bill Cassidy is sponsoring would leave the issue of caps up to the states to decide. Cassidy is co-sponsoring the bill with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
In the past week, Louisiana's Democratic governor and health secretary have come out against the plan. In a letter to Cassidy, Department of Health Sec. Rebekah Gee argued that his bill "gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people."
Gov. John Bel Edwards, meanwhile, expressed concerns about rolling back Medicaid expansion. In the year and a half since the governor's executive order enacting expansion, more than 400,000 individuals have enrolled statewide.
"If the state wants to keep people on Medicaid, they can keep people on Medicaid," Cassidy argued, suggesting that because the bill would send block grants to states, they could maintain the program if they choose on the state level.
However, the exact impact of the bill remains unclear. So far, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not scored the legislation to determine how it will impact insurance enrollment or premiums, and their complete analysis will not be done before any vote.
"We have a September 30 deadline. No Democrat I've approached has been willing to work on this solution or any others. Even solutions specifically designed to be bipartisan they've refused to work on," said Cassidy.
Under reconciliation, lawmakers have until September 30 to pass the bill with just 50 votes. After that, passing the bill becomes far more difficult for Republicans. Democrats are dead set against the legislation.
Graham-Cassidy is supported by President Donald Trump and the Vice President. Organizations like Americans for Limited Government, along with 15 Republican governors have also endorsed the plan.
Meanwhile, dozens of medical organizations, ranging from the American Cancer Society and the America Diabetes Association to the Louisiana Hospital Association and AARP, have come out against the legislation.
A group of 16 organizations representing patients and medical providers released a statement saying that Cassidy's plan will endanger "access to critical care for millions of Americans."
Edwards, meanwhile, joined a bipartisan group of ten governors in opposition to the legislation. They are asking lawmakers to take a bipartisan approach instead.