BATON ROUGE — Today, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the Graham-Cassidy health care amendment. Gov. Edwards also joined a bipartisan group of governors, including Governors John R. Kasich (R-Ohio), Steve Bullock (D-Mont.), Phil Scott (R-Vt.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Charles Baker (R-Mass.), Tom Wolf (D-Pa.), Bill Walker (I-Alaska), Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.), Charles Baker (R-Mass.), and Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.), in asking congressional leaders to not consider the latest health care proposal, but instead, follow the lead of Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in promoting a bipartisan solution that includes input from governors.

"First, I want to thank Dr. Cassidy for taking the time to sit down privately with me to discuss his health care proposal. While we may not always agree on policy, I want to commend him for making a tireless effort to reform our nation’s health care system and for his willingness to incorporate some of the ideas that we’ve presented to him.

“However, after a careful review of this legislation, I cannot support the Graham-Cassidy Amendment. My primary objection relates to the elimination of the Medicaid expansion program in 2020. Right now, more than 430,000 working poor people in Louisiana have access to health insurance because we chose to bring our federal tax dollars back home. We’re saving lives, money, and investing in our people to ensure they are able to receive quality healthcare. Importantly, Louisiana’s uninsured rate has dropped to nearly 10 percent. Undoing this progress would negatively impact our citizens and our economy.

“I am working with Republican and Democratic governors from across the country to promote a solution that makes health insurance more stable and affordable. We all agree that any plan must go through regular order and receive proper analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. Rushing a piece of legislation of this significance through the process without proper vetting, thorough hearings or robust debate will leave us with unintended consequences that can be avoided. Congress should take the time to get this process and policy right because it is the American people’s lives, well-being and tax dollars that hang in the balance. The people of Louisiana deserve nothing less, and I am willing to work with Dr. Cassidy on an acceptable, bipartisan solution to our nation’s health care problems.”

Here is the text of the letter from the governors:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

As you continue to consider changes to the American health care system, we ask you to not consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment and renew support for bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans. Only open, bipartisan approaches can achieve true, lasting reforms.

Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray have held bipartisan hearings in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and have negotiated in good faith to stabilize the individual market. At the committee’s recent hearing with Governors, there was broad bipartisan agreement about many of the initial steps that need to be taken to make individual health insurance more stable and affordable. We are hopeful that the HELP committee, through an open process, can develop bipartisan legislation and we believe their efforts deserve support.

We ask you to support bipartisan efforts to bring stability and affordability to our insurance markets. Legislation should receive consideration under regular order, including hearings in health committees and input from the appropriate health-related parties. Improvements to our health insurance markets should control costs, stabilize the market, and positively impact coverage and care of millions of Americans, including many who are dealing with mental illness, chronic health problems, and drug addiction.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to improve the American health care system.

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