GOP Senator Says He Is Talking To Democrats About Replacing O’Care

Melinda Deslatte/AP

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) is having conversations with “four or five” Democrats he hopes will help him work toward a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, but he said that Democrats are still waiting to see if Republicans will get their act together before signing on.

“We have to show that we have our act together before they’re going to risk it,” Cassidy told reporters. “I’m okay with that.”

Cassidy said he didn’t know if other colleagues were trying to reach across the aisle at this point.

“I want this to be an American solution, not a Republican solution,” he said. “I say that not rhetorically, but the only major social programs that have worked in our country have been bipartisan, and we need this to be bipartisan.”

Cassidy–who campaigned very much in the mold of anti-Obamacare rank-and-file Republicans in 2014 – has distinguished himself in recent weeks as the debate over the Affordable Care Act has unfolded with his calls for Republicans not to rush to repeal Obamacare without time to find a replacement.

Cassidy is one of five Republican lawmakers who sponsored an amendment asking leadership to slow down the process to repeal Obamacare, and he has been vocally opposing repealing Obamcare taxes that could be used to pay for an alternative to Obamacare.

Cassidy says he had a lot of work to do yet to convince Democrats to work with Republicans on alternatives to ACA. Cassidy has been pushing his own health care bill since July of last year. Still, Cassidy says he is “open” to alternative ideas.

“Obviously, I’m invested in mine, but I’m invested in it because I talked to lots of stakeholders,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy’s biggest push is for states to have more freedom to regulate health care in their own states. Cassidy says if states want to keep Obamacare in California, for example, they should be able to do so.

“We should have a plan that isn’t Republican, that isn’t Democrat, isn’t blue, isn’t red … but rather something that works for each state because Alaska is very different from Louisiana is very different than California,” he said.