MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Senator John McCain says he will vote no on a new healthcare bill being put forward by Sen. Bill Cassidy and other senate republicans. This puts the bill in danger of not passing if it comes up for a vote next week. But Cassidy says he'll keep fighting for a plan that he says would give power and money back to the states. But what does that mean for you? We sat down with Cassidy to find out what he says.
"A state could come up with a solution that would work for that state," Cassidy said. Giving the power back to the states. That's Bill Cassidy's solution for America's healthcare system. He says it helps people and state's bottom lines. "Both that family who can't afford their premiums because they're too high but also because of the way Medicaid is eating up both state budgets and federal budgets," Cassidy says.
Some political experts say that's not necessarily a bad idea. Enter Doctor Joshua Stockley.
"Give the states an incentive to tailor the program as efficiently as they can within parameters," Stockley says, "You don't change the qualifications that people qualify for. If the states are successful they can use that money in other areas." As Stockley sees it though, this is one part of a solution to a multi-faceted problem. "I don't think we can conclusively say the ACA is broken for rural America. In fact, the evidence points to the opposite."
He's right. Rural hospitals have grown under Obamacare. In part, thanks to more people getting health coverage. In fact, data from the U.S. census says Louisiana's uninsured rate is the lowest it's ever been. "Rural poverty is growing. It's a real thing," Stockley says. "The ACA has done a huge service to a lot of rural Americans."
What does this new bill mean for you? It would end the mandate that you have to buy insurance. Along with that, the subsidies that helped people buy it.
"I regularly get emails from people who say that if they're in the exchanges and they're not getting a subsidy they can't afford their premiums," Cassidy says. "So what we do is that we take the money that would come from medicaid expansion, tax credits, and that's the whole pool of money that we would then give to the state in order for the state to then provide access." Medicaid expansion would cease to exist. An expansion which insures more than 400-thousand people in Louisiana. Obamacare taxes would stay in place though.
All of that money would go directly to the states and they would have the final say in how it was spent. The problem is states could decide to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions or for older people. Not only that, but states would only get a fixed amount of cash. So once the money is gone, it's gone. Cassidy says that spurs innovation.
"By giving a capped amount we are saying: 'States if you save money by creating an innovative program you can use those dollars you save over here. And if you save over there then you can address this problem and then over time you put in the building blocks to have a healthier society.'"
Stockley says fundamentally this doesn't solve the problem, which is encouraging insurance companies to do their part and working together to find a solution. "That's the part that needs to be fixed. I think Republicans and Democrats should easily be able to come together and find a solution. It would be a win-win for both parties."
But right now, Republicans are going it alone on healthcare. "Every solution that we have proposed has been the conservative solution," Cassidy says.
Stockley says, "Republicans are doing what they're supposed to do. They're opposing Obamacare. They have run for 7 years on repeal and replace. Now they're realizing that campaigning is inherently different from governing." Stockley says we have to do is reach across the aisle.
What does a bi-partisan healthcare bill look like that actually works for all americans?
"I don't think it's impossible," Stockley says. "There's a long-standing, proud history of significant policies being made in the United States with the support of both parties."