In an op-ed in The Hill on March 14, 2017, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy stated that it is a myth that “cutting funding for coverage means that society saves money.”

Yet six months later, he is spearheading legislation that drastically cuts coverage and benefits for thousands of our most vulnerable Louisianians. His actions are in direct conflict with his previous words: “This (cutting coverage) does not contribute to life and the pursuit of happiness. It is better to give patients adequate coverage. Ultimately, society pays.”

Cassidy is actively and knowingly pursuing an approach that would force society — and in particular, low-income, working families — to move to a more inefficient, expensive health care system. He is working against the best interest of the Louisiana constituents he represents and driving our nation away from the pursuit of happiness.

The Cassidy-Graham repeal plan would make drastic cuts to federal funding for Medicaid and other coverage programs. It would eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which covers nearly 435,000 Louisianians. It would also eliminate tax credits that help more than 122,000 moderate-income Louisianians afford marketplace coverage. A far smaller federal block grant would replace both, which would force Louisiana to cut coverage and benefits. It would also restructure the rest of the Medicaid program for seniors, the disabled and children by capping and deeply cutting payments, leaving states few options except to, again, cut coverage and benefits.

Even more concerning is that in 2026 these block grants would disappear completely — as if the need for coverage among low- and moderate-income Louisianians would somehow vanish overnight. Louisiana would then experience a more than $3.2 billion cut in funding for health care in 2026, with the cuts growing even larger in subsequent years.

Furthermore, neither the block grant nor the caps to the regular Medicaid program would adjust (as Medicaid and marketplace programs do today) for public health emergencies like the opioid crisis or new prescription drugs to cure disease. When people and states need help most, this legislation would deny them that assistance.

As a physician, Cassidy has a unique perspective, and I agree with his previous statement, “The fact is that it is better to pay for the care that someone is going to receive no matter what, so as to maximize an American’s potential to contribute to society, than to instead pay for expensive, inefficient, episodic care which watches a patient decline and burdens families and society. We should maximize potential. It is good policy. It is good politics.”

Senator Cassidy is going against his own statements and beliefs and, in his words, practicing bad policy and bad politics. He is furthering his own political agenda at the expense of Louisianians.

Susan Todd

executive director, 504HealthNet

New Orleans