A Republican congressman and physician by trade from Louisiana was caught denigrating those without medical insurance, including his own patients, during a speech discussing his own alternative to the Affordable Care Act in audio posted by Buzzfeed on Wednesday.
“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,” Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told the audience during the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting last week. “Turns out, those are my patients. They’re illiterate. I’m not saying that to be mean. I say that in compassion. They cannot read.”
Cassidy’s official website lists him as a co-founder of the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, which provides free dental and health care to patients without medical insurance, provided they have been employed for 10 of the 12 months leading up to their visit. Patients must also be employed and making at least 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, while working at least 30 hours a week at the time of their visit.
“The idea that they’re going to go on the internet and work through a 16-page document to put in their data and sign up does not reflect on understanding of who is having the hardest time in our economy,” Cassidy said of those patients.
Instead of using Obamacare, as the law is commonly known, Cassidy proposed a scenario in which people under a certain income level without insurance would be automatically signed up for a policy covering catastrophic events and pharmacy costs. He did not mention, among other “bells and whistles” covered by the current law, reproductive health care. Cassidy also said that, under his plan, families could pool their coverage and buy a group policy.
“Under the president’s health care law, some couples divorce, because that is the only way they can get benefits,” he told the audience, using a conservative talking point rated as false by Politifact. “I think breakup of the family is one of the greatest problems in our society.”
Under this plan, Cassidy said, a husband and wife who are the victims of an auto accident could receive emergency care without even knowing they were insured.
“I think actually reflects the reality of who the uninsured are relatively less sophisticated, less comfortable with forms, less educated,” he said.
Cassidy also denigrated President Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer while he lived in Chicago.
“We were fortunate growing up in the south,” Cassidy told the audience. “The president is a community organizer. You wonder if he ever worked with a poor person.”
In reality, Obama worked for three years with the Developing Communities Project, which has provided literacy and job training programs since its inception.
[Image via Rep. Bill Cassidy official Flickr page]