Health & Wellness

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Editorial: Paging Dr. Cassidy — move on from health care repeal

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 1:46 PM

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy takes questions about health care at a town hall forum in Metairie earlier this year. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy takes questions about health care at a town hall forum in Metairie earlier this year.

Congressional Republicans began trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) literally the day after it was passed in 2010. The GOP-controlled House has voted to repeal it many times in a series of completely symbolic exercises that tossed red meat to their supporters without actually accomplishing anything. Now, with the GOP in control of both houses of Congress and the White House, it’s abundantly clear that Beltway Republicans have no idea how to follow through on their promise of “repeal and replace” — even though they’ve had seven years to figure it out.

“We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will,” said Arizona Sen. John McCain on the Senate floor, shortly before three attempts at repeal failed in late July. “All we’ve managed to do is make more popular a policy that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it.”

McCain is correct. During the last seven years, the ACA has continued to rise in public opinion polls. Even its detractors praise some of its provisions, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and letting young people stay on their parents’ policies until age 26. A Gallup poll conducted in April found 55 percent of Americans now approve of the ACA, while only 30 percent want a complete repeal.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Louisiana senators support failed attempt to repeal ACA: what's next

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Bill Cassidy. - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Bill Cassidy.

Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Neely Kennedy supported the Senate's latest attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act, including a late-night vote on a so-called "skinny" repeal, amid Republicans' failed efforts to dismantle the health care plan.

In its latest vote held early Friday morning (on the week of the 52nd anniversary of the passage of Medicaid), the Senate failed to pass a "skinny" repeal measure that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would increase the number of uninsured people in the U.S. by 15 million in 2018. Premiums for people buying their own insurance would likely rise by 20 percent.

The "skinny" repeal plan — an eight-page bill dubbed the Health Care Freedom Act, unveiled just hours before senators voted on it — would strike the individual mandate from the ACA, roll back requirements for employers to offer insurance to employees, cut funding to Planned Parenthood and increase funding to community health centers, and cut funds to numerous public health programs earmarked by the ACA.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cassidy and Kennedy join Senate in vote to debate repeal of ACA

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 5:25 PM

Demonstrators marched against cuts to the Affordable Care Act in New Orleans earlier this year. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Demonstrators marched against cuts to the Affordable Care Act in New Orleans earlier this year.

Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie vote in the U.S. Senate July 25 to begin debate over some form of repeal of the Affordable Care Act, though senators still haven't revealed which version it will ultimately consider. Senators will debate this week and consider a long list of amendments, following a byzantine drafting process that has kept voters in the dark.

Also voting "yes" were Louisiana Sens. John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy, who until today had not publicly committed to a position on any repeal or replace measure, other than his proposed version with Sen. Lindsey Graham. Cassidy — who called today's vote a "first step" — applauded the move in a statement sent after today's Senate vote.

“Nothing changes until the first step is taken," he said in a statement. "There will be many others. But we must replace Obamacare with something which fulfils President Trump’s campaign pledges to maintain coverage, protect those with preexisting conditions, and lower premiums without mandates. Power needs to be returned to the patients and states."

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Ahead of potential Senate health care vote Tuesday, Kennedy pledges support for bills on WWL-TV

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 10:41 AM

U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.
  • U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy.

In a segment
that aired last night, U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy told WWL-TV's David Hammer that he supports the Senate health care bill as currently written, or full repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement — basically greenlighting whatever legislation might appear before him today.

"If [the health care bill] didn't change ... I would vote for it, because it's better than the Affordable Care Act (ACA)," Kennedy said. "First chance I get to repeal Obamacare, I'm gonna do it."

Kennedy's remarks come amid a chaotic process and confusion about a potential vote that may take place in the Senate Tuesday. Kennedy is referring to the text of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the repeal-and-replace bill that was released by the Senate last month to widespread condemnation in Louisiana. That bill failed to garner sufficient support among senators to be brought to a vote in recent weeks.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

West Nile virus discovered in New Orleans

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 4:05 PM

mosquito.jpg
Time to dump out the kiddie pool. New Orleans' Mosquito and Termite Control Board has discovered West Nile virus in mosquitoes in the parish for the first time in 2017, according to an announcement from City Hall. There have not been any reported human cases of the virus or the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, however.

West Nile also was discovered in 14 samples in St. Tammany Parish. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one in five people infected with the virus develop fever and other symptoms, and less than 1 percent develop a serious illness.

The board and the New Orleans Health Department will be "aggressively applying insecticides by airplane and truck" to target the virus-carrying southern house mosquito, as well as "applying larvicide to storm drains and standing water, reducing breeding sources, and educating residents through community outreach efforts."

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Edwards joins bipartisan group of governors saying Senate should reject repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 4:12 PM

President Donald Trump said today, "Let Obamacare fail; it'll be a lot easier." - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • President Donald Trump said today, "Let Obamacare fail; it'll be a lot easier."

The Senate health care replacement for the Affordable Care Act may have collapsed (though Congressional GOP leaders and President Donald Trump have expressed support for "just repeal" rather than "repeal and replace"), but a bipartisan group of governors — including Gov. John Bel Edwards — has issued a statement calling for the repeal's rejection.

"The Senate should immediately reject efforts to 'repeal' the current system and replace sometime later," the statement reads. "This could leave millions of Americans without coverage. The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets."

Since Edwards implemented the federal Medicaid expansion in Louisiana one year ago, more than 400,000 Louisianans have gotten health care. The repeal would leave them in limbo. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was set to reveal its analysis of the bill yesterday, but did not do so.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

At New Orleans East town hall, panelists defend Medicaid expansion, oppose Senate health care bill

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 9:54 PM

Paneilsts Nick Albares, Dawn Hebert, Dr. Keith Winfrey and Cyndi Nguyen lauded the 2016 expansion of Louisiana's Medicaid program.
  • Paneilsts Nick Albares, Dawn Hebert, Dr. Keith Winfrey and Cyndi Nguyen lauded the 2016 expansion of Louisiana's Medicaid program.

In the bright front room at New Orleans East Louisiana Community Health Center (NOELA), a crowd of about forty people gathered July 13 for a town hall that gradually mounted a firm opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The panel, which was organized by Louisiana Budget Project, included LBP senior policy analyst Nick Albares, NOELA chief medical officer Dr. Keith Winfrey, VIET executive director Cyndi Nguyen and community advocate Dawn Hebert. (Nguyen and Hebert are both New Orleans City Council candidates running for the District E seat, which includes New Orleans East.) Panelists cited the importance of the ACA-connected Medicaid expansion to New Orleans East residents and Louisianans, and called on audience members to urge their senators to vote against the BCRA.

"At the end of the day, what [the BCRA bill] means is hundreds of thousands of people will lose heath insurance, including 50,000 children," Albares said. "It would reverse all the progress that we've been making over the past year."

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#FightLikeJulie: Social media goes pink in support of Julie Stokes' breast cancer fight

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 1:48 PM

screen_shot_2017-07-12_at_1.44.42_pm.png


Last week, state Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, announced she would not be running for state treasurer, as she had previously announced, due to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Today her colleagues in the state legislature, as well as supporters and well-wishers around Louisiana, wore pink and sent photos and good thoughts to Stokes on Twitter using the #FightLikeJulie hashtag.
Take a look:


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Louisiana Budget Project hosting health care town halls

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Demonstrators at a March event to support the Affordable Care Act. - PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • PHOTO BY KAT STROMQUIST
  • Demonstrators at a March event to support the Affordable Care Act.

With few (if any) public appearances and community meetings held by Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Neely Kennedy, public policy and fiscal analysis group the Louisiana Budget Project (LBP) will host a series of informational town halls to discuss and answer questions about the U.S. Senate's proposed health bill.

The LBP will host two town halls in the New Orleans area — one in New Orleans East this Thursday, July 13, and another in Metairie at the Jefferson Parish Library on W. Napoleon Avenue on July 18.
The Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act is estimated to cut Medicaid — which has signed on more than 436,000 people in Louisiana since its expansion in 2016 — by more than $770 billion by 2026. Gov. John Bel Edwards estimates the bill would force the state to increase costs to keep the expanded Medicaid program up to $250 million a year by 2022, or "end expansion outright," ending care plans for the anticipated 540,000 Louisianans insured through Medicaid by 2020.

The number of uninsured people in the U.S. will likely climb to 22 million.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Three people arrested during demonstration at Sen. Bill Cassidy office

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 2:55 PM

Three people were arrested outside U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's Metairie office during a sit-in urging Cassidy to vote against the Senate's health bill. - PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • PHOTO BY ALEX WOODWARD
  • Three people were arrested outside U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's Metairie office during a sit-in urging Cassidy to vote against the Senate's health bill.

As part of a national demonstration urging Senators to vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, three people were arrested July 6 while inside the Causeway Boulevard building that houses U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's Metairie office.

Roughly 20 demonstrators demanding Cassidy vote against the Better Care Reconciliation Act joined a nationwide "sit-in" at Senate offices across the U.S., a multi-pronged effort coordinated by Democratic Socialists of America chapters as well as Democracy Spring, Our Revolution, #AllOfUs, Progressive Democrats of America, Ultraviolet, The People's Consortium, ResistHere.org and The Working Families Party. The national Sit-In to #StopTrumpcare also calls for single-payer health care through a Medicare For All platform.

The organizations also called for Senators to protect Medicaid, which likely faces a chopping block if the bill passes. More than 436,000 people in Louisiana have qualified for Medicaid coverage following the state's 2016 expansion of the health program.

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