I don’t think U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy makes a habit of checking this space for advice, so I can’t take credit for a decision he’s clearly made. I can, though, applaud him for doing what I believe to be the right thing.
Earlier this spring, after Democrats had taken control of the House at least partly thanks to the GOP’s drive to repeal the increasingly popular Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump decided that his allies should try again. And so he drafted a trio of Republican senators, Rick Scott of Florida, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Cassidy, to come up with a new, “beautiful” plan. Cassidy’s place on the list surely owed to his authorship of one of the failed efforts from the prior session of Congress, along with South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who was reportedly egging Trump on.
At the time, I wrote that Cassidy, a former Charity system physician, should dodge the assignment and instead use his medical expertise to push more productive and unifying reforms.
Now comes a report by The Daily Beast that the three senators are indeed letting the president’s call go unanswered. They haven’t gone so far as to disavow the idea, but they’re clearly not pursuing it either.
Here’s what Cassidy had to say to the news site: “We’ve been working hard on a lot of issues, surprise medical billing, lowering drug costs, et cetera, which I think sets the stage for doing other things to help make health care more affordable.”
Contrast that with, say, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who signed Louisiana up as a plaintiff in a multi-state legal challenge to the health care law passed under former President Barack Obama. That case has gotten a favorable verdict from a Texas judge and is due to be heard by the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal next month.
In the meantime, Landry has been pushing state-level legislation that he claims would reinstate some of the protections that would disappear should his lawsuit prevail — although the bill, approved by the Legislature and awaiting a final verdict from Gov. John Bel Edwards, would fall far short of that promise.
Between the two approaches, I’d take Cassidy’s any day. It’s a lot easier to try to fix something if you’re not also out to break it.