Willie Geist asked Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) about the possible rollback of Medicaid expansion that has many people worried.
"Can you speak to that, what might be inside the bill for people who are currently enjoying the benefits and are worried they won't be covered if this becomes law?" Geist asked.
"There's a couple of ways that can go. Let me give the better way," Cassidy said.
"One thing that is not fully appreciated is that the current Medicaid expansion is not sustainable for states. States will be picking up 10% of that expense in 2020. For California, that will be $2.2 billion a year. my state, $310 million, much smaller state.
"You can go around, the states that expanded cannot afford their 10%. There's something that has to be done to make it sustainable for both the state taxpayer and the federal," he said.
"We've got to take care of the patient. I'm a doc. We've got to take care of the patient, and that's the sweet spot we're searching for."
"What do you say to someone like John Kasich in Ohio who says, 'You cannot do this to hundreds of thousands of people in my state?'" Geist asked.
"Kasich has recommended in private, maybe not in public, rolling back that 138% federal poverty level to 100%. but what you have to do if you do that is for the credits to go for folks getting their insurance through the exchange." Cassidy said.
"It has to be more generous. so there's not a big cliff coming off of 100%. If we can do that --
and again, we don't know the size of those credits yet. I don't, at least. Then you can actually transition people and make the program sustainable for the state taxpayer and the federal taxpayer."
"Are you comfortable as a senator and as a physician that all those people who benefit from Medicaid right now, whose health care is taken care of by Medicaid, that they'll be okay? There won't be some big gap in the middle as they transition if this becomes law?" Geist prodded.
"Put it this way: I can't tell you that," Cassidy said.
"I've not seen writing on a piece of paper. but that's what I'm hoping for."
Hmm. Yeah, I was really "hoping for" a piano that one Christmas. Hope doesn't deliver.