Grace Notes: Pitching health care overhaul, Bill Cassidy offers ironic shout-out to John Bel Edwards | Stephanie Grace

Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy is pushing a bill in Congress that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead send the money through block grants down to the states. He thinks governors should love it.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards apparently doesn’t. He hasn’t endorsed the idea, but has joined a bipartisan coalition of governors looking to fix the law rather than trash it.

If you’ve heard Gov. John Bel Edwards speak in public, chances are you’ve heard him talk abo…

It’s now or never, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and several Senate co-sponsors of his latest propo…

That doesn’t mean the two don’t have some level of mutual respect. They’ve been in regular contact over various ideas to overhaul the health care system for months now, according to both camps. And Wednesday, when Cassidy and his Senate co-sponsors unveiled the text of their last-gasp bid to push a repeal through a procedural window that closes in two weeks, he actually gave the governor a shout-out.

If critics are concerned that fewer customers would sign up for insurance once mandates are eliminated, which Cassidy’s bill proposes, they should look to Edwards’ success in adding more than 430,000 Louisianans to the Medicaid roles during the first year of expansion, the senator said. Edwards’ administration, which implemented the largely federally funded expansion after former Gov. Bobby Jindal refused, has aggressively promoted the program to potential customers, and Cassidy told Washington reporters that such an approach would be key to states’ success under his bill too.

“If a governor’s on board, we can enroll people,” said Cassidy, a physician who is a harsh critic of mandates but a proponent of other measures to increase coverage.

There’s an irony here, though. Cassidy’s bill would actually end Medicaid expansion as we know it, and shift money from states that have accepted it to those — generally led by fellow Republicans — that have not.

He and his co-sponsors have framed the move as a simple matter of equity. But the much quicker and less disruptive way to remedy current disparities in federal funding is for those states to just emulate Edwards and adopt Medicaid expansion, take the money from Washington and sign people up.

Better yet: It wouldn’t require Congress to lift a finger.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.


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