Senator Bill Cassidy's health care alternative gives states power to choose

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Republican effort to dismantle Obamacare enters a new phase. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a piece of legislation that would serve as a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. The catch? Some states would be able to keep Obamacare if they’d like.

Senator Cassidy (R-LA) says the people in his state want to choose for themselves what type of health care plan they have.

"We don’t think a one-size-fits-all from Washington has worked," said Cassidy.

Cassidy and Maine Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) roll out their rebuttal to Obamacare called the Patriot Freedom Act.

The legislation is the duo’s answer to the question, “What does replacement look like once there is a repeal?” Cassidy says the key of the legislation is to let the states come up with their own solution.

"It may include staying (with) Obamacare because they may decide for their state that they want to keep the insurance they have," said Cassidy. "That is very consistent with Republican principles."

The legislation allows states to choose between sticking with Obamacare, creating a new market-based system with federal funding, or creating an alternative system without federal assistance. He also says there is automatic enrollment involved, but no penalty if folks decide to drop out.

"We think we actually will get, if states adopt this program, everyone covered, or almost everyone covered who needs to be covered," said Cassidy.

There has been opposition on both sides. Far-right Republicans say allowing Obamacare to live on in any capacity is unacceptable. Many on the left are saying millions will lose coverage, and costs will skyrocket.

"20-plus million people now have healthcare...that didn’t have it," said Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). "Do you want to snatch that away from those people?"

Nelson says if you leave it up to states, citizens get left behind. He says his state would send people into an expensive marketplace that they cannot afford. But, he also says he doesn’t think enough lawmakers can get behind a replacement option, so it will not happen.

"The president and his party are all over the landscape," said Nelson. "They have not come together for a replacement of the ACA, and as a result, you can’t repeal it if you don’t replace it."

Nelson says he will continue fighting to keep Obamacare. Cassidy says he thinks he will get enough votes in the coming weeks to replace.

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