Yesterday we discussed how monumentally hypocritical Senator Ron Johnson is. Johnson co-sponsored the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson Obamacare repeal bill because it includes a provision that would take money away from other states and redirect it to his. The bill would even afford extra money to states such as Wisconsin who refused to accept Medicaid expansion while ending Medicaid expansion for states that accepted it.
That provision wasn't one of the carve-outs or hand-outs added to the bill after other senators complained about it. The Johnson provision was part of the original bill and that's why he supported it.
As deceitful as that is, I'm not sure if Senator Bill Cassidy's actions this week are better or worse.
As you may know, authors Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy released a new version of their bill yesterday which included new provisions intended to placate certain parties, and in Cassidy's case he added a provision that benefits his own state.
That would hardly be surprisingly, but Cassidy's latest addition is just as if not more deceitful than Ron Johnson's provision for throwing more money at states that refused to expand Medicaid.
The new version would afford more money to states that accepted Medicaid expansion, but only those who accepted it in the past two years; a list that includes only two states.
The legislation includes language that gives states that expanded Medicaid after December 2015, access to an additional $750 million a year between 2023 and 2026.
Experts at both the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Brookings Institution confirmed CNN's understanding that the provision would only make two states eligible for the millions in funding: Montana and Louisiana.
That money, however, wouldn't just be divided evenly -- Louisiana would get tens of millions more because it's population is larger, according to one expert.
Now, why did Louisiana, Bill Cassidy's home state, just recently expand Medicaid?
Because they elected a Democrat as governor. Governor John Bel Edwards expanded Medicaid under Obamacare almost immediately after taking office. The economy of Louisiana was hanging by a thread following the reign of Bobby Jindal and the state desperately needed the money from Obamacare.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, and Ron Johnson for that matter, say they hate Obamacare. They say we spend too much money providing health care through government programs like Medicaid, but their bill would funnel significantly more money to their own states.
Both Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the state secretary of health have publicly opposed the Graham-Cassidy bill and I can only assume that's why Cassidy added more money for his own state. Because "Obamacare-lite," as Senator Rand Paul would call it, is Okay for his state but apparently not for others.
There's no other way to look at this. It may be the most hypocritical legislative initiative we've ever seen. Bill Cassidy's colleague Rand Paul says it's "unseemly," but that's an enormous understatement.
“I’m just not for a trillion-dollar grant program that keeps most of the Obamacare spending,” he said. “This is thrown together sort of in a slipshod way … A lot of this is about electoral politics.” [...]
“In my mind a compromise does not include block grants,” he said. “I just don’t think this is repeal. … I believe that it represents Republicans accepting a trillion dollars of Obamacare spending.”
I am loath to agree with Rand Paul, but he's not necessarily wrong. I would add, as I have added, that this represents Republicans directing "a trillion dollars of Obamacare spending" back to their own states while taking it away from others. They want it for themselves.
For his part, I can't say what Senator Dean Heller of Nevada is thinking by co-sponsoring this bill because, as far as we know, his state will get nothing out of it. Judging by the actions of Bill Cassidy and Ron Johnson, I'd say Dean Heller should have asked for more. They clearly would have given it to him if he only asked.
As of this writing, the vote for the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill has been canceled but I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this bill and the gross hypocrisy of those who supported it should not be forgotten.