Meet the Republican who was for Obamacare, before he was against it

bill-cassidy1Next year’s elections will be huge for the future of our country, and one of the US Senate seats in contention is the one currently held by Senator Mary Landrieu, a centrist Democrat from Louisiana. There are a couple of Republicans vying to replace her and the front runner is US Congressman Bill Cassidy (LA-6), who supported major parts of the Affordable Care Act – before he was against it.

In an article in the NOLA Defender, it was revealed that in 2007, then State Senator Bill Cassidy’s campaign ran on a four point platform that included some of the same measures that are also included in Obamacare.

In 2007, the then State Senator Cassidy ran on a four-point platform, and point four extolled the virtues of a state run healthcare exchange. Here is the text from 2007 Cassidy’s campaign page:

“Making Quality healthcare more accessible and more affordable.

– Create a statewide Health Insurance Exchange to lower insurance premiums, decrease administrative costs and allow flexibility in which benefits workers choose.

– Allow the self employed to purchase health insurance with pre tax dollars.

– Increase the portability of health insurance so that when workers change jobs they can keep their coverage.

– Emphasize Public health and preventive care to reduce future health care costs.”

Following that, Cassidy himself put forth Senate Bill No. 307 (SB 307), which would have created the Louisiana Health Insurance Exchange.

Part of 2007 Cassidy’s logic was that the state exchange would eliminate waste and fraud, increase the use of preventative care by Louisiana’s indigent population, and all while saving the state money. All these improvements hinged on “Promotion of an equitable, seamless and sustainable health care system for the health care consumer, health care provider, health insurance issuer or insurer, employer, purchaser, and state and local government.”

Sound similar to the systems under the ACA? Cassidy’s text goes on:

“For the purpose of any exchange, recommended options for reform in the state’s Medicaid program, the resultant goal is for healthcare cost savings to the state, in at least, the following ways:

(1) Improve health outcomes for Medicaid recipients.

(2) Provide Medicaid recipients with coverage options from which they can chose.

(3) Encourage and improve utilization of primary and preventive care.”

So why has there been such a wave of opposition to the Affordable Care Act by Bill Cassidy and other GOP politicians? It’s simple – attacking anything that President Obama supports or proposes is seen as a good political tactic, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even admitted it. When asked about this flip-flop, Congressman Cassidy’s office declined to comment.

Another provision that they have repeatedly attacked but was upheld by the Supreme Court is the individual mandate. Here’s the funny part – it was originally proposed by the very far right Heritage Foundation. Yes, that is a link to Fox News where they admit the following:

The mandate, requiring every American to purchase health insurance, appeared in a 1989 published proposal by Stuart M. Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation called “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” which included a provision to “mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance.”

The Heritage Foundation “substantially revised” its proposal four years later, according to a 1994 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. But the idea of an individual health insurance mandate later appeared in two bills introduced by Republican lawmakers in 1993, according to the non-partisan research group Among the supporters of the bills were senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who today oppose the mandate under current law.

If you go on to read the rest of the article and look at the number of bills that it mentions put forth by Republicans that have a lot of similarities to the current law of the land, you can rightfully come to the conclusion that they were all for this idea – right up until President Obama was elected.

The individual mandate is indeed, as then Governor Romney stated when signing Romneycare into law, about personal responsibility – something the GOP likes preach about when opposing public assistance or just about anything they don’t like. So why oppose the Affordable Care Act and threaten to shut down the government when it is something that they originally proposed? The more reasonable part of the GOP has been pushed to the sidelines, and only by appealing to the most anti-government, anti-Obama faction that controls the primaries does anyone have the chance to get the nomination. We saw that last year with Mitt Romney and the other candidates who won the primaries, only to be defeated in the general election because they were too extreme, even for conservative-leaning districts.

Opposing the Affordable Care Act and pandering to the radical right in Louisiana will most likely get Congressman Cassidy the nomination to run against Senator Landrieu – but like Mitt Romney, it’ll cost him the general election.


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