Cassidy has 'productive' meeting at White House discussing future of Affordable Care Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said he had a “productive” meeting with White House officials Monday as discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act continue.

“All involved want a path forward,” Cassidy said in a prepared statement. “There are many ideas in Graham-Cassidy-Heller and the Patient Freedom Act that can be next steps. I will continue to discuss these ideas with the administration, governors and folks back home, because the American people need relief.”

Cassidy met with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and a number of governors, among others, about a proposal he and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) drafted as an amendment to the latest GOP bill that aimed to repeal and replace the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

That GOP bill did not get enough votes to advance last week.

The so-called Cassidy-Graham-Heller proposal would end the ACA’s individual mandate and shift more health care responsibility and choice on state governments. The idea includes input from U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada). It has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or faced a vote in the chamber.

“In Louisiana, if you’re not getting a government subsidy, you can’t afford the premiums on the individual market. If you’re a family trying to get coverage for a loved one, it is either not there or it is unaffordable,” Cassidy said in a Twitter video he posted as he traveled to Washington, D.C., for the meeting. “I’m all about people having coverage. What we have now, too many people lack coverage.”

He went on to say that about 50 percent of the people who have been penalized for not having coverage have reportable income of less than $25,000 a year.

“This is a tax on lower-income Americans. I can’t believe people sit around brag about it and praise it and say we should keep it” he said. “It’s wrong. I’ll continue to fight to repeal and replace (the ACA).”

President Donald Trump, who campaigned on ending the ACA, has criticized Senate Republicans for not passing a plan to do so. The most recent effort, known as a "skinny repeal," was defeated when Republican U.S. Sens. John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joined Democrats to vote it down.

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