LA Health Official Warns Cassidy Repeal Bill ‘Disproportionately’ Hurts His State

UNITED STATES - MAY 18: Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., leaves a briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Capitol Visitor Center on the investigation of President Trump's campaign ties to Russia on May 18, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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The latest Senate Obamacare repeal bill would “uniquely” and “disproportionately” hurt a key sponsor’s home state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee wrote a letter Monday to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to share her “deep concerns” with the repeal and replace bill that he’s helped  to craft.

The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson legislation would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and would transform Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies into block grants controlled by individual states.

As Senate Republicans jockey to get 50 votes to support the bill, Gee warned Cassidy that his plan to cut Medicaid expansion would jeopardize coverage for 433,000 Louisiana residents, a move that would be a “detrimental step backwards for Louisiana.”

“As you know, in only one year, we’ve been able to provide more than 433,000 Louisianians with coverage, resulting in more than 100,000 primary care visits, tens of thousands of screenings for cancer and thousands of new mental health services. These treatments have saved lives,” she said, adding that if the bill became law the state would have to end all its efforts and “thousands of Louisiana citizens would lose coverage and access to critical health care services.”

She said she is concerned with the funding formula for per capita caps contained in the new legislation, which are no different than what was included in this summer’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, she said. She claims these caps will result in “profound cuts” to their state’s most “vulnerable” and would create budget instability for the state.

Gee also took issue with the bill’s plan to weaken consumer protections that would hurt those with pre-existing conditions, which she said will inevitably drive up the cost of care, pushing more people out of the workforce and into public assistance programs.

An analysis by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates Louisiana will lose $3.2 billion through 2026, making it the 8th “biggest loser” of the states that would be impacted by the bill, Gee said.

“The legislation you’ve introduced this past week gravely threatens health care access and coverage for our state and its people. It also relies on the closed-door and hurried process of budget reconciliation,” she wrote. “A generational bill as transformative as this one, that would overhaul aspects of nearly one-fifth of this country’s economy, should be done through regular order with public hearings.”

She ended the letter urging Cassidy to tackle “underlying issues” of sky-high pharmaceutical costs and “broken care-delivery models.”

Read the full letter below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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