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Bill Cassidy Arrogantly Insults Uninsured, Says Low-Income Louisianians Don’t Have Health Insurance Because They’re “Illiterate,” “Less Sophisticated… Less Educated”

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250,000 Louisianians In “Jindal Gap” Can’t Access Health Insurance Because He, Bobby Jindal Reject Medicaid Expansion – Not Because They’re “Illiterate”

New Orleans, Louisiana – Congressman Bill Cassidy arrogantly insulted uninsured Louisianians last week, stating that the reason low-income Louisianians don’t have health insurance is because they’re “illiterate” and “less sophisticated… less educated,” according to a new report by Buzzfeed.

While speaking at an event last week, Bill Cassidy said (these are actual quotes):

“the reality of who the uninsured are – relatively less sophisticated, less comfortable with forms, less educated.

“Insurance people they will tell you that they will go to a company and an employer will pay for everything, and there are some people who will not sign up. Turns out, those are my patients. They’re illiterate.”

The truth is nearly 250,000 Louisianians – or 87 percent of uninsured adults in poverty – fall into the Medicaid coverage gap caused by Bobby Jindal and Bill Cassidy’s rejection of Medicaid expansion. Those 250,000 aren’t uninsured because they’re “illiterate” – they don’t even have the option to access health insurance because of folks like Bill Cassidy.

Arrogantly insulting low-income Louisianians and the Medicaid program is not new for Bill Cassidy. Cassidy has likened Medicaid to “heroin addiction” for states. He has called Medicaid expansion “a lie to the American people.” He has even described it as “prisoner’s bargain.”

For Bill Cassidy to insinuate that the reason low-income Louisianians don’t have health insurance is because they’re “illiterate,” “less sophisticated” and “less educated” represents a new low, and Cassidy owes Louisianians, 250,000 of whom he has denied the opportunity to access health care, an immediate apology.

“Bill Cassidy arrogantly insulted hundreds of thousands of uninsured Louisianians by calling them ‘illiterate,’ ‘less sophisticated’ and ‘less educated,’ and he owes the people of Louisiana an apology,” said Campaign For Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “Nearly 250,000 Louisianians don’t even have the opportunity to purchase health insurance. It’s not because they’re ‘illiterate’ as Bill Cassidy has insinuated, it’s because he and Bobby Jindal are rejecting Medicaid expansion at virtually no cost to taxpayers. Bill Cassidy’s insulting caricature of Louisianians who can’t access health insurance, in part because of his opposition to expanding Medicaid, proves that he’s out of touch with Louisiana values and can’t be trusted to fight for Louisiana in the Senate.”

Polling shows 63 percent of Louisianians support expanding Medicaid. And a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week finds that support for Medicaid expansion crosses party lines. More than 60 percent of Republicans now support Medicaid expansion.

BACKGROUND

According To The Kaiser Foundation, Over 240,000 Louisianans, Or 87% Of Uninsured Of Non-Elderly Louisiana Adults In Poverty Will Not Have Access To Subsidized Health Coverage Without Medicaid Expansion. “Eighty-seven percent of all non-elderly Louisiana adults living in poverty will not have access to government subsidized health insurance in 2014 despite a new national health-care law that was designed to extend coverage to more people. That’s according to Kaiser Family Foundation, which Wednesday (Oct. 16) released a new state-by-state analysis of health-care coverage in the 26 states that have so far declined to expand Medicaid to their poorest residents. Nearly 5.2 million poor, uninsured Americans — 242,150 of them in Louisiana — will not have access to insurance provided for under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010.” [Times-Picayune, 10/16/13]

  • 63% Of Louisianians Polled Supported Medicaid Expansion. [Families USA, April 2013]

Cassidy Described The Uninsured As “Relatively Less Sophisticated, Less Comfortable With Forms, Less Educated.” [Buzzfeed, 3/26/14]

  • Cassidy Described The Uninsured As “They’re Illiterate. I’m Not Saying That To Be Mean. I Say That In Compassion. They Cannot Read.” [Buzzfeed, 3/26/14]

Cassidy: Medicaid Is “Like A Heroin Addiction” For States. In December 2012, The Advocate reported on a lecture Cassidy gave at George Washington University: “‘Medicaid is like a heroin addiction’ for states, Cassidy said.” [The Advocate, 12/9/12]

  • Cassidy Called Medicaid “Welfare Medicine.” “Now, opponents of repeal argue that this gives Americans insurance, but what in truth it often gives is Medicaid. Now, Medicaid is a Federal-State program, which is often called ‘welfare medicine,’ and it is a program which is destroying State budgets.” [Library of Congress, Congressional Record, 1/19/11]

Cassidy Called Medicaid Expansion “A Lousy Idea” And “A Lie To The American People,” Citing A Cancer Patient Who Lost Her Doctor Because Of Low Medicaid Reimbursement Rates. In July 2013, Politico reported: “It can be easy to forget that health care policy involves real people with real illnesses. Rep. Bill Cassidy delivered a reminder Thursday, describing his follow-up call with an ovarian cancer patient profiled by the New York Times in 2010. The woman lost her doctor when he stopped taking Medicaid patients due to low reimbursement rates. ‘She died,’ Cassidy exclaimed, kicking the underside of a table in the Speaker’s Lobby, where he was seated. He says the story shows why expanding Medicaid under the health care law is a lousy idea. ‘And this is the program we’re expanding?…Those folks who think they put in wise public policy…are pretending they’re providing that woman with cancer in Michigan access to health care is a lie to the American people.’” [Politico, 7/12/13]

  • The American Cancer Society Criticized Cassidy, Calling On Him To Address The Issue of Low Rates Rather Than Condemning The “Only Coverage Option Available To So Many Americans.” July 2013, Politico reported: “The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network wrote to Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) about comments that appeared in Friday PULSE. Cassidy, speaking out against the Medicaid expansion, told the story of a cancer patient who died after losing her doctor because he stopped taking Medicaid patients due to the program’s low reimbursement rates. The issue of low rates, ASC CAN writes, ‘is a problem Congress should address, rather than simply condemning as inadequate the only coverage option available to so many Americans with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.’” [Politico, 7/15/13]

Cassidy Labeled Medicaid Expansion A “Prisoner’s Bargain.” In February 2013, The Daily Comet reported: “Under the law, Medicaid will be expanded to include all residents with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line or an income of $30,675 for a family of four in 2012. The expansion is federally funded for the first three years, but after that it would be up to states to support expanded Medicaid. While this seems like a good deal, Cassidy said it is a ‘prisoner’s bargain’ for Louisiana.” [Daily Comet, 2/21/13]

Under ACA, Applicants Without A Computer Are Able To Apply Over The Phone Or With The Help Of “Navigators.” “Don’t have access to a computer? Here’s how to apply – Apply by phone: Call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). A customer service representative will work with you to complete the application and enrollment process. Find in-person help: You can apply with the help of an assister who can sit with you and help you fill out an online or paper application. Search by city and state or zip code to see a list of local organizations with contact information, office hours, and types of help offered including non-English language support.” [HHS, 3/27/14]

  • States Like Oregon, Arkansas, West Virginia, Illinois, And New Jersey Were Allowed To Implement “Fast Track Enrollment” To Facilitate Medicaid Sign Ups. [Kaiser Family Foundation, 11/19/13]

Over 321,000 Kentuckians Have Enrolled In ACA, 75% Of Which Did Not Have Insurance, With Over 250,000 Qualifying For Expanded Medicaid Coverage. “More than 321,000 Kentuckians are now enrolled in new healthcare coverage through kynect, and that number is expected to keep growing in the final days of open enrollment. A preliminary analysis has found that approximately 75 percent of all enrollees report that they did not have insurance before signing up for healthcare coverage through kynect. With approximately 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians prior to the start of open enrollment on Oct. 1, kynect is helping significantly reduce that number and ensure access to quality, affordable care each day…. 321,932 Kentuckians are enrolled in new health coverage… 257,477 have qualified for Medicaid coverage 64,455 have purchased private insurance.” [Lane Report, 3/24/14]

  • 3/5/14: “Nearly 100,000 People Have Enrolled So Far” Of 250,000 Eligible In Arkansas’s Medicaid Expansion. [PBS, 3/5/14]

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