03/18/2014 02:16 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2014

Bill Cassidy Attacks Obamacare Medicare Savings, But Admits He Voted For Them

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has been running for Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-La.) Senate seat in part by attacking the Affordable Care Act and its impact on the Medicare Advantage program -- despite voting for those same Medicare savings.

Cassidy admitted at a town hall meeting in Gonzales, La. last Monday that he voted for the cuts to Medicare Advantage as a way to create savings that can be used more broadly.

"Among the things that the president’s health care law does is it cuts Medicare Advantage," said Cassidy, who is a physician. "Now it would be one thing if the savings they were taking from Medicare Advantage were put back into the trust fund because as we mentioned, the trust fund is running out of money.

"But if they, so if they are taking the savings of that and putting it back in the trust fund, I’m ok with that, actually I voted to do that at one point, because then you paid into the Medicare trust fund, the money should be through you, if there's savings to be achieved put it back in to extend the life of the trust fund."

Landrieu, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this election cycle, has already been hit by more than $1 million in ads as she defends her seat. At issue in the campaign and the broader 2014 midterm elections is the $716 billion in Medicare cost controls over a 10-year period ordered by the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office says the savings -- which don't target benefits but instead reduce reimbursements to private insurers within the program -- extend Medicare's lifespan, while Republicans argue that the savings would reduce access to care.

Cassidy's campaign has sent emails to supporters decrying the Affordable Care Act's changes to the Medicare program, though House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has proposed budgets which have included the same cuts, while also partially privatizing Medicare in order to reduce the deficit.

In March of 2013, Ryan told reporters that including the cut to Medicare "makes it easier" to balance the budget. His proposed 2013 budget, including the Medicare cuts, passed the Republican-led House.

Cassidy's communications director, John Cummins, says that Cassidy wasn't talking about his vote for the Ryan budget at the town hall, but instead other votes in the House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and restore the cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. "The legislation was embryonic, whereas Obamacare passed and came into law," Cummins told HuffPost, in reference to the Ryan budget, which he called a "blueprint."

Cummins also highlighted a bipartisan letter Cassidy signed last week asking the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services to keep Medicare Advantage payment rates flat.

The Kaiser Health Foundation wrote in 2012 that repealing the Affordable Care Act would "accelerate" the projected year of insolvency for the Medicare program. The Congressional Budget Office found, also in 2012, that repealing Obamacare "would have no retroactive effect on Medicare Advantage payments."

Democrats in Louisiana say Cassidy's stance is hypocritical.

"For months Bill Cassidy and his national GOP handlers have hypocritically attacked Democrats for supporting the same Medicare savings that they voted for repeatedly, and now even Cassidy himself admits that his latest line of attack is a complete farce," Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker wrote in a statement to HuffPost. "There's only one candidate in Louisiana who wants to slash health care benefits for seniors and that's Bill Cassidy."



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