Sen. Cassidy pushes health bill in LaPlace

Published 12:10 am Saturday, April 2, 2016

LAPLACE — The council chamber at the Percy Herbert Building in LaPlace was packed Wednesday afternoon as concerned residents came to listen to what a U.S. Senator had to say at a town hall meeting.

Bill Cassidy

Bill Cassidy

Before reading out loud questions that residents wrote before the town hall meeting, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana spoke about economy and mental health concerns.

The first-term senator explained he has a mental health bill that recently passed through the Senate committee.

“Everyone is affected, directly or indirectly, by the issues of mental health,” he said. “Everyone has either a family friend or a family member whose life has been destroyed. It might be through addiction or it might be through a major mental illness. The Federal government spends a lot of money on mental illness but they spend it the way you would expect the Federal government sometimes spends things. It spreads it all the way around, without any focus, and the impact of the money isn’t nearly what it should be.”

Cassidy said he been working for 30 years in the Charity Hospital system and has seen mental health issues in his patients and his family.

“We just passed the bill out of our committee and I think it will pass all the way until the president signs it,” he said. “We will take the  $500,000,000 the Federal government spends and focus it down to where it can be most helpful.”

The Senator had those in attendance imagine a 22-year-old woman who just had her first psychotic break.

“You would wrap services around her so that her first psychotic break is her last psychotic break,” Cassidy said. “Instead of her life spirally downward, it is assured back up. She keeps her family together, her kids have a place to go and she stays employed.”

Attendee Brandt Lewis asked Cassidy his feelings on Medicare Advantage and, after hearing the Senator’s response, was pleased.

“He gave a direct answer,” Lewis said. “He said Medicare Advantage works idealistically. Being that he is a medical professional, I was pleased with his answer because he said directly that he does support Medicare Advantage and that he will continue to do so because he thinks the structure of Medicare Advantage works well in government.”

While Lewis was happy with the response he got from the Senator, Warren Stevens wasn’t. Stevens, a construction worker, asked about keeping jobs local.

“I asked him about jobs in the Parish and he started talking about a mental health bill,” Stevens said. “He is a politician and I understand that he has certain things he can say. I just wanted him to know, because he is our Senator, that I represent thousands of construction workers that need to go out of state in order to take care of their families. I just wanted the problem addressed.”