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Thursday, May 4, 2017

How Louisiana's members of Congress voted on GOP health care plan

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge In March, protesters in New Orleans rallied for better health care as Congress prepared to vote on devastating cuts to the Affordable Care Act. - KAT STROMQUIST
  • In March, protesters in New Orleans rallied for better health care as Congress prepared to vote on devastating cuts to the Affordable Care Act.

Five of six Louisiana members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in support of the American Health Care Act, which rolls back Medicaid benefits by nearly $900 billion over the next decade, allows companies to raise premiums for people with "pre-existing conditions" and ditch certain essential health benefits, blocks funding for Planned Parenthood and generally guts most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Republicans failed to push through a repeal of the ACA in March, a bill the Congressional Budget Office estimated would result in the loss of coverage for 24 million people, a report that crippled the bill's chance of successful passage. The office didn't have enough time to score the latest bill before a vote.

All 193 House Democrats voted against the latest bill, including New Orleans Rep. Cedric Richmond, the only Louisiana Democrat in the House.

Republican Reps. Ralph Abraham, Garret Graves, Clay Higgins and Steve Scalise voted to support it. Scalise — also the House Majority Whip — released a video statement following the vote, calling it an "important step to actually get Obamacare out of the way so we can lower costs and put you back in charge of making your health decisions."

"Republicans have fulfilled a campaign promise. Unfortunately, it was a promise that will have serious life-changing consequences for millions of Americans, including veterans, individuals with pre-existing conditions, older Americans, and those who rely on Medicaid,” Richmond said in a statement. “The bill makes it easier for insurance companies to deny basic coverage like maternity care, mental health and addiction services, and prescription drugs, as well as threatens the employer sponsored insurance system.” Richmond said the bill's passage jeopardizes health care "for millions," and the GOP "will be on the hook for the tens of millions of Americans who will be harmed" with the dismantling of the ACA.
In a statement, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the bill "blatantly violates President Trump’s campaign promise that under his administration, more Americans would have better health care for less money."

"It should scare every American that Congress doesn’t know how many people this bill will hurt or what it costs," Landrieu said. "Unfortunately, estimates are that this bill will be a tragic mistake for tens of millions of families. It eliminates protections for basic health care benefits, resulting in a race to the bottom for health insurance coverage. This means a return of lifetime limits on coverage and the elimination out-of-pocket cost cap. The bill also rolls back Medicaid expansion that provides coverage to more than 420,000 Louisianans — nearly [one] out of every 10 people in our state."

The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where reports say a vote is unlikely. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy criticized President Donald Trump following the CBO estimate in March, telling CNN that taking coverage away from 24 million people is "not what Republicans ran on." That bill was pulled before a vote.

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