Cassidy: With Trump, Congress Will Replace the Affordable Care Act

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said he has been in contact

With members of the Donald Trump transition team about his health care reform plan as a replacement for Affordable Care Act.

“I’ve spoken to members of the transition team and they are familiar with our work and of course the proper role of Congress is to have input. I think there will be this back and forth between Congress and the Trump team. The Cassidy Sessions bill, though, is the only bill in legislative language that has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, so we feel like we are well-positioned,” Cassidy said during an interview at the Lab School of Washington gala.

“We repeal the individual mandates, the employer mandates, but we ensure that all have access to coverage,” he said. “We’re not about 20 million people losing coverage. We are about giving the patient the power, not the federal government.”

Cassidy, a member of the Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee, predicted that Republicans would successfully repeal the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump.

“We are going to give the patient the power, not a bureaucrat and, as a physician taking care of patients, when a patient has the power, the patient does well,” he said.

Cassidy said he does not mind keeping some “good ideas” from the Affordable Care Act inside a new replacement bill, such as the provision that allows individuals younger than 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.

“I don’t mind keeping a good idea, particularly one that started off as a Republican idea,” he said in regards to the 26-year-old rule.

Cassidy stressed that a replacement for the Affordable Care Act should be patient-centered.

“What we need to do is look at that patient. Imagine she’s in the middle of course of therapy for chemotherapy. She voted for Donald Trump. She wants something different but she doesn’t want her current care to be disrupted,” he said. Now we need to put something in place that meets all her needs – replacement for Obamacare that gives her the power – not the federal government, but also makes sure that in the transition there’s no disruption of her care. Now we have principles on how that will be done but that should be the kind of prism through which we look.”

Cassidy said the Republican Party wants Americans to be able to choose the benefits and coverage they want to pay for, rather than the federal government regulating the type of coverage that insurance companies are allowed to sell.

“When people say they want Obamacare repealed, they want that part repealed where the federal government takes power away from the family and gives it to a bureaucrat. They want to make sure they can’t get kicked off an insurance plan, but they also want the power of choice to choose the benefits they wish and, therefore, how much they are going to pay and that’s what a Republican proposal will offer,” he said.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked if he has drawn any lines in the sand on foreign policy issues as the new administration prepares to enter the White House.

“I just want to make sure he [Trump] has the right people in place. The Senate has the power of confirmation, so we are going to be watching carefully to make sure the people in the State Department and Department of Defense have experience, have the credentials to protect this country abroad,” he said during an interview at the Lab School of Washington gala. “Obviously, traditionally, the Senate does give some deference to the president to get his people in place but I want to make sure these people are qualified.”

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, recently met with Trump about a position in his administration, possibly secretary of state.

“I think it’s a little early to comment on all these names that are swirling around in the press. I am hoping he is going to pick people who are qualified, who have experience abroad and we’ll take each nominee as they come,” Murphy said.

Trump has campaigned on ending U.S. involvement in the Iran nuclear deal. Murphy said the deal has worked and argued that the incoming administration should not walk away.

“I think that he is going to take some time to learn up on foreign policy and learn the implications of the Iran deal – sticking with it or getting rid of it – the stakes are really high. Obviously, I am a supporter of the deal. It has worked and I hope he’ll take the time to realize that sticking to it and enforcing it is a much better option than walking away from it and starting from zero again,” Murphy said.