Senator faces healthcare protests at town hall

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) faced backlash over the Senate ObamaCare repeal bill during an at times confrontational town hall in Baton Rouge on Friday. 

Cassidy made it through roughly 20 minutes of his event before an attendee interrupted him asking him to “vote against that hideous bill.”  

“We’ll talk healthcare but this was originally for those folks who are trying to put their lives back together who haven’t yet been able to, so I will do the first part of this for those such folks,” Cassidy said. 

Most of Cassidy’s event, one of two town halls he scheduled for Friday, was dominated by flood insurance questions after the state was hit by prolonged rain last year. 

{mosads}But he ran into pushback when voters asked him if he would support the Senate GOP bill and its dramatic reshaping of Medicaid. 

“I do not defend the process. I don’t. I just don’t,” he said, when asked why Republicans crafted their bill in a series of closed-door meetings. 

Cassidy added that he remains undecided on how he will vote, saying that GOP senators “have not yet seen what the legislation will be.”  

“What I can say is that the concern regarding pre-existing conditions is one that I have been expressing … and I will judge the final product as to how well it addresses the issue of pre-existing conditions,” he said. 

Senate GOP leadership wanted to vote on their ObamaCare repeal bill before lawmakers left for the July 4th recess, but delayed the bill amid opposition from the caucus. 

The Senate’s “draft” bill would result in an additional 22 million becoming uninsured by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis. 

The findings marked a setback for the legislation, and GOP leaders have been locked in a string of negotiations to make changes aimed at picking up additional GOP support. 

The Louisiana senator at times chided his constituents for interrupting him and others, telling one protester that there was “no need to rude.” 

“If you wish to chant and keep others from being able to speak or be heard that is actually not civil. … Respect the right of others both to speak and be heard,” Cassidy said. 

When he reminded the audience to be “civil,” a constituent fired back: “I’m civil. I don’t think it’s civil to kill people.” 

Another constituent told Cassidy, who was holding the microphone for him, that “what’s rude [is] kicking 22 million people off healthcare,” referring to the CBO score.

“I am doing my best to make sure that we continue coverage, care for those with pre-existing conditions, eliminate mandates and lower premiums,” Cassidy said. 

GOP lawmakers have been confronting angry constituents at town halls ever since the healthcare debate began. Many of those moments have gone viral and been seized upon by Democrats.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) is also expected to hold a town hall over the recess, according to the Town Hall Project. 

Cassidy touted his legislation with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) at Friday’s event. The healthcare bill would give states the option of keeping ObamaCare. 

“It’s a pretty generous plan. Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to get others to support [it],” he said. “Now that’s been my position, and that’s what I care for.” 

Tags Jerry Moran Susan Collins
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