BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) became emotional on 9News This Morning when discussing the ongoing opioid epidemic sweeping Louisiana and the U.S.
"There's a guy who was in Baton Rouge and now (lives) in Lafayette, that sent me a letter about his son. Whenever I read a portion of it, it always makes me cry because he lost his 17-year-old. And there was no treatment available for him."
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"And so, it's also about getting treatment available for adolescents, who right now, there is not enough treatment for them. And then when they come out of treatment, keeping them away from their suppliers who want to keep them hooked. They don't want them clean. So, what do we do about that?"
The senator is currently sponsoring two bills, one that calls for more transparency in healthcare to patients, and a second that is a bipartisan bill that would increase federal funding and policy reforms to combat the opioid epidemic.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 Act was introduced on Feb. 27 by Cassidy, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
CARA 2.0 would strengthen the policies of the original CARA law passed in 2016. Among some of the highlights of the new legislation, it would require physicians and pharmacists to use state monitoring programs when prescribing or dispensing opioids. It would increase civil and criminal penalties for opioid manufacturers that fail to report suspicious orders or fail to maintain effective controls. A national standard for recovery residence to ensure quality housing for individuals in long-term recovery.
Cassidy says the aim of his bill on healthcare transparency is to let patients know "the cost of a medical test or procedure before it is performed and not afterward when they are billed for it."
The senator referenced a story from a New Orleans newspaper where a woman paid over $300 for a blood test but later found out another location performed the same test for $30.
He also mentioned a woman from Houston who had urine drug-screen performed and was billed $17,000. Her insurance only covered approximately $150, he said.
"So, we need to make this, so the patient has the power of price, so that she knows what it will cost, so it will help people save money."
The senator said his bill is a way to "to beginning transferring power from the providers to the patients. And the patient to the power.
Cassidy went on to equate the mysterious cost of health care to buying a pair of blue jeans.
"You don't buy blue jeans for $17,000 because you know the price."