Louisiana Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy might be feeling some empathy for Mitt Romney after a challenger has compared his past health care bills to Obamacare.
On Wednesday, Rob Maness, who is running against Cassidy in the 2014 Senate race, coined the term “Cassidycare,” attacking the congressman for bills he proposed as a state senator that bear similarities to some of the components of the Affordable Care Act. The two are challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who has represented the Bayou State since 1997.
“Mary Landrieu was the deciding vote on Obamacare through the Senate but Mr. Bill Cassidy, who calls himself a Republican, authored an almost identical piece of legislation on the Louisiana State Senate. Obamacare, Cassidycare, Landrieucare, whatever you call it, it adds up to the same thing: taking away control of your health care and damaging our economy; destroying your jobs,” Maness said at a Tea Party Express event in New Orleans.
Maness is referring to two bills Cassidy introduced in 2007 and 2008. The first would have created a healthcare exchange run by the state where people who did not have health insurance through their employer or Medicare or Medicaid could purchase insurance, similar to the health exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. The second would require small business (those with fewer than 50 employees) to provide insurance that covered treatment for mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse, which is similar to the requirements for small businesses
“Personally, I respect both Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy’s service to our nation,” Maness went on. “But when it comes to your health care, and our economy, and our jobs, they are both dead wrong. Mr. Cassidy wrote a bill to create Cassidycare here in Louisiana even before President Obama took up the cause. And although he’ll tell you he’s voted 40 times to repeal the Unaffordable Care Act, he keeps voting to fund it. That is a fact well documented.”
Maness, with a mere $25,000 in his campaign coffers, is not a particularly serious threat at this point in the race. But Louisiana has “jungle primary” elections, where there are no party primaries. Instead, all candidates run against one another, and the top two go to a run-off if no-one gets more than fifty percent of the vote. That means even a small slice of the vote could have more impact.
Cassidy, a doctor, dismissed the criticisms.
“The program I proposed is similar to other Republican programs. It was voluntary, market-based and meant to give people other options,” Cassidy told The Daily Caller. “President Obama’s law, passed by Democrats on a party-line vote, is enforced by the IRS, dictates benefits and requires participation under penalty of law. By definition, it’s not market-based. To compare one to another is like comparing crony capitalism to capitalism. Anyone who thinks these bills are similar either does not understand their intent or hasn’t read them.”
Cassidy is not the only Republican who is drawing fire on the subject of Obamacare. A battle is brewing on the subject, as some conservative Republicans are pushing to defund the law in the Continuing Resolution that congress must pass at the end of the month to continue funding the government. Many Republicans have either rejected the argument or declined to comment on it. Senate Conservatives Fund made a $340,000 ad buy attacking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for “[refusing] to take the lead on defunding Obamacare. SCF is also running similar ads in Tennessee attacking Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. Both Alexander and McConnell are up for re-election in 2014 and facing primary opponents.