01:25 - Source: CNN
GOP senator: Tinkering won't fix health bill

Story highlights

Sen. Bill Cassidy said he agreed with Sen. Susan Collins about changes to the bill

Cassidy shared concerns about the impact that cuts could have on "Trump voters"

CNN —  

Sen. Bill Cassidy struck a cautious but critical tone on Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare, urging more than “tinkering” to improve the Senate bill, insisting that “Trump voters” should “truly have coverage.”

The Louisiana Republican, who is also a physician, was interviewed on CNN Wednesday morning – a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shelved plans to vote this week on the Better Care Reconciliation Act – and said that he “will make a decision as to how I will vote once we see the final product.” But Cassidy made clear significant changes needed to take place.

“We need to make it so if somebody goes off Medicaid, on private insurance – which is good – that they can still afford it,” Cassidy said. “We have to make it so those Trump voters, who voted for Donald Trump because he said he was going to help them have coverage, truly have coverage.”

Cassidy said he agreed with Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins, who said that “tinkering” with the legislation stalled in the Senate won’t be enough.

“I think she’s probably right,” Cassidy said. “Tinkering will not do it. President Trump said the House bill should have more money added to it. Instead, the Senate bill took $200 billion more away. That’s $200 billion less you have for coverage.”

He continued, “I don’t consider $200 billion tinkering. But if we do what President Trump suggested, that we put more money in to try to improve the coverage for those Trump voters, who were told on the campaign trail they would have coverage, their pre-existing conditions addressed … if we take care of those Trump voters – which is to say all Americans, but just the representative that voted for Trump, that believed his pledge – then we will do the right thing.”

“That will be more than tinkering. That will be a surprise that will be substantial,” he said.

Cassidy also expressed frustration with the lack of bipartisanship in the health care debate. The Louisiana Republican was frustrated of a Politico report that recapped the efforts of Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to keep Democrats united against Obamacare repeal.

“I don’t like the process. I wish it had been bipartisan. But that article indicates there was no hope for it. I hate to say it, but Mitch was right. We were not going to get assistance. And that’s regrettable. It should be about patients. It was made about party. That’s too bad,”

Cassidy said. He pointed to the alternative health care legislation that he and Collins had introduced, called the Patient Freedom Act, as an “earnest” attempt at bipartisan compromise.