November 8th, 2009
11:44 AM ET
10 years ago

Cao says he put his district's needs over his party's wishes

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao said Sunday he put the needs of his district over the desire of his party in being the lone House Republican to vote for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Related: Lone GOP vote came after call from Obama

Cao's "yes" vote ended up being unnecessary for House Democrats in the 220-215 tally, but as the only GOP member to support the bill, he gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi license to tout bipartisan support for the controversial measure.

"I felt last night's decision was the proper decision for my district even though it was not the popular decision for my party," Cao, a first-term representative from Louisiana's traditionally Democratic 2nd District, told CNN.

"A lot of my constituents are uninsured, a lot of them are poor," Cao said. "It was the right decision for the people of my district."

The first Vietnamese-American to serve in the House, Cao defeated nine-term Democratic incumbent William Jefferson in last year's election. Jefferson was under indictment on money laundering and bribery charges at the time, and has since been convicted.

Cao, a devout Catholic, said Sunday that an amendment to strengthen anti-abortion language in the House bill cleared the way for his support.

"When that was worked out … I called the White House and said I could possibly support the bill," said Cao, adding he discussed getting continued help for his district as it seeks to fully recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Asked about the reaction of fellow Republicans to his vote, Cao said the party's leaders "respect my decision, and I respect theirs."

"To tell you the truth, neither one of us really knows what is the right decision," he said of the complex health care bill, citing differing reports and differing studies on its impact. "Ultimately, we have to make that leap of faith."

The bill's approval by the House late Saturday night marked a major step for Obama's top domestic priority. If the Senate now passes its own version, the two bills would be merged, and the final version would require approval from each chamber before being sent to the president for his signature.

Filed under: GOP • Health care • House • Louisiana • Popular Posts
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. kylindy

    Thank you Mr. Cao, you have courage and integrity.

    November 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Liberal4Obama

    Joseph Cao showed TRUE leadership, Boehner and Cantor? NOt so much

    November 8, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. Greg

    Cost? Higher Taxes? Come on...let's just take a look at this...

    First, the taxes being taken from the wealthy is not even half of the wealth redistribution tax breaks that Bush gave to the, people don't realize that people who sign up for the public option will be paying the Public Option organization premium. Therefore, it is not an increased tax but a person deciding to pay their premium to another organization – not a tax! Now, those of you that think the poor, who will be subsidized by the increased tax (a re-redistribution from the wealthy) should not have healthcare – raise your hand – who do you think picks up the cost of the uninsured hurt and sick when the bill comes in within the existing system...the government does...because the healthcare companies cherry pick...and, don't get me started on pre-existing conditions for deny policies (or charging $6,000 a month) or denying care in a dire situation...

    Secondly, healthcare premium costs from the "great" private sector increased over 20% this year...that is the result of segmented private sector monopolies...people don't realize the private companies stay out of each others backyard so they can increase premiums as they wish...

    Third, the great leverage of healthcare insurance is having masses of people within the plan, therefore lowering expense and increasing buying power...thus, the natural leverage of a public option is created.

    Hey, with a public option people can choose...what is un-American about that...

    November 8, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. ThinkForYourselves

    It had little to do with him doing what his constituents wanted. I doubt he has any idea what they want, or if any representatives know/care.
    I have not had health insurance for nearly a decade and I STILL say this "healthcare reform" is a horrendous leap in the wrong direction. What is really making me sick is the floods of people that want to run their mouths about bills and resolutions that they themselves have NEVER READ, much less understand. On the other hand I HAVE read the bill, all of them that came across the table in fact, and I can tell you that our nation is now in a world of hurt... at a price tag of over a trillion dollars WE DO NOT HAVE. Understand? DO NOT HAVE. Not "well, we're strapped for cash so we don't have it" I mean we literally do not have the money. It's going to get BORROWED. Guess who pays it back with interest? US TAXPAYERS.

    November 8, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. Marie Laveaux

    OK... I said something positve in my previous post, but now I'm going to tell it like it is. I am loving all of the outrage by the right wing on here. You are all wrong, and on top of that you are still acting like the biggest ninnybabies I have ever known. You need to stop the trantrums, period. Lead, follow or get out the way! Have nice day.

    November 8, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  6. Laverne

    What is really sad is the a lot of the people who post blogs on this site, have not even read the bill for themselves as well as a lot of the republican idiots! Citizens are going by and trusting what their representative are telling them. If you are going to criticize at least know what you are criticizing and trying to block. There are a lot of GOOD things in this bill that will be a benefit to many, especially the middle and poor working. I will give it to the republicans that they have been successful in once again using scare tactics to create the illusion of they are trying to save the American people from financial ruin and from President Obama socialist government take-over of healthcare. It can't be the furthest thing from the truth. You people better wise up, the repubs are not interest in the American people, they are interested in their own political ambitions and they are pissed that they won't get credit for the most historical movement in 100 years. The really sad part about this is half of the people who are complaining are dead as broke and if a healthcare crisis were to hit their lives, they would be near financial ruins. Wise up people, Washington already has great healthcare coverage with a public option and they LOVE IT!

    November 8, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Gary

    At least one Republican willing to put the people ahead of party. Well done.

    November 8, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Patriot

    Those opposed to healthcare reform are the minority right-wing fringe. All of the polls show that the majority of Americans support reform, as do 75% of doctors.

    The lunatics such as the Tea-Baggers, Birthers, Tenthers, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, and Bachman just can't get it through their heads that most Americans are turned off by their extremism - that is why only 20% of the people now claim to be Republicans, and that is why Obama carried red states in 2008.

    The Republican Party has been hijacked by extreme wing-nuts, and as long as it keeps catering to them, it will continue to lose power.

    The moderates in the party need to break away and form a third party, one more sensible and attuned to the needs of the people instead of the special interests. That would be a party I could support and take seriously.

    November 8, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. American

    Thank you, Rep. Cao!

    November 8, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. William Komp

    It is good that people will get help out of this bill (if it becomes law). However it does nothing to solve the problem that is occurring in health care. The insurance companies get a lot of the blame for the problems in health care. They contribute no doubt about it, but they are not the driver of the problem. The driver of the problem is increased utilization. This increased utilization is coming from a change in the membership mix. The entire system is based on young non-sick people shouldering most a great share of the burden for the sick. Thus, the costs are spread around to all of those in the system. However, the young (historically not very sick) are becoming more and more sick. The rates of type II diabetes in under 40 year olds is going thru the roof. This is just one example. You have cancer rates in that age group going up etc. SO what is happening is that the historically healthy group is becoming an ever more sick group. This means that the non-sick youthful people (a shrinking population) are shouldering a greater burden of the costs. The financial calculation becomes for them: Why pay so much for something that they really wont use until they are passed 40? SO they are dropping it which only exacerbates the problem.

    AS I see it this bill does nothing to deal with this utlization problem but rather changes the membership mix to include more of the no condition people so that they are shouldering more of the burden. This is fine but it is a band aid. It does not solve the overall utlization-membership mix problem. I think we need an aggressive healthy campaign. One example, all transfatty products should be taken out of the schools. Healthy alternatives along with education about what the healthy alternatives mean in those schools would be a great start. We spend so much time on reading, writing and math. Why not on diet and health? If we begin to educate people then perhaps we can begin to reverse this membership mix change which we are currently experiencing.

    November 8, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. Bill

    Free healthcare, one more reason not to work.

    November 8, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  12. lieNoMore

    Only proves there are Taliban and Mullahs even in the Democratic party. These kind of "devotees" will only be happy when women are back in the fashionable Chador and rape is a "crime of passion". Welcome back to Saudi Arabia....

    November 8, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. mroth

    Sometimes I wonder what planet these rethugs live on? Price thinks the Dem's bill will interfere between a patient & doctor? What the hell does he think the insurance companies have been doing for so long? Can't wait until the GOP spin this as a *victory.*

    November 8, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. carlos, THAT one

    to all of you rotten putrid are the true traitors in this country......Rep Cao: honesty, character, intelligence, caring and most of all HUMAN......and you repugnants, what do you have to show for????treason, ignorance, amoral, vile, evil.........

    November 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. William

    I definitely admire you for doing what ALL politicians should do. Represent their constituents, not their party. A lesson both Democrats and Republicans need to learn.

    November 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. Pam from Louisiana

    HOORAY for CAO!!! A rep from my state to vote his conscience instead of the controlling GOP's stranglehold on the rest of their spineless sheep. The GOOD of the country transcended the insatiable insurance industry's powerful lobbyist and bountiful donations. That is the only time anyone will see the insurance companies be generous, when its $uit$ their own greedy, grubby, grinding, gluttonous homogeneous agenda.

    November 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Chuck

    Well done monsieur Cao; merci beaucoup.

    November 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Sherri

    Thank you for your support of this bill. Very brave to put the American people before your party!!

    November 8, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  19. Mr Inclusion

    This is exactly why the democrats were overwhelmingly voted into they must follow thru finish the Health Care bill in the Senate and move on to passage of the Employee Free Choice Act......the race to the bottom MUST stop....bring the bottom up....empower the middle class

    November 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Pete

    Wow. No wonder why the American people vote the way they do:

    "They haven't yet realized that in free market capitalism small businesses get crushed."
    >Absurd. Big businesses have weaknesses – particularly as their reach gets larger and larger. Small businesses are thriving in this country.
    >>What we have isn't free market capitalism by a long shot. Laws get passed to favor those who can afford lobbyists. And small businesses are thriving in this country? You are obviously on crack.

    "When the uninsured go to the emergency room, who pays for their care? "
    > That will be the same people that will pay under the healthcare bill.
    >> Actually, we pay for all of it NOW. Obama's plan is to get people onto the tax rolls and get them insured as soon as they go in for care. The Republican plan is to let anyone who isn't carrying their insurance card bleed out in the parking lot.

    "When people can't pay their bills because they are under-insured and file for bankruptcy, who picks up the tab"
    > If they can't pay for insurance now, they are going to afford it when the government forces them to?
    >> "Under-insured" can mean a lot of things. My mom was a PhD chemist, had a great plan she always paid into, but by the end of her cancer she had wrung it dry. Is it lucky that she didn't last that long? 10% of bankruptcies in this country are because of cancer, and 95% of them have "full" health care coverage. There should be REAL insurance out there in the US that guarantees that if you hold up your side of the deal that you'll get carried in full to the finish line. Every other developed country does this. We don't.

    "want to complain about govt. spending and deficits, direct your outrage at the former administration"
    Actually, that was a democratic congress – and this current administration along with the current congress made their spending look like lunch money. Want to see spending stop, set congress republican and the president democrat (i.e. Clinton).
    >>The last two years of the W administration were Democratically controlled houses (barely) – but the real corporate giveaways were before that. Halliburton getting no-bid multi-billion contracts in Iraq for
    services they had no experience in, the fake oil crisis (created by legislation lobbied for by Enron but utilized by the banks that allowed you to sell stock in Petro company subsidiaries you owned without disclosing the relationship – every bank on Wall Street bought an oil company and started basically doing the junk bond shuffle).

    If this bill uses medicaid as a standard, get ready people. You are about to have LESS doctors, LESS choice – and MORE expensive healthcare. Ask anyone who runs a healthcare facility if they could survive on medicare alone.
    >> Well, they are restructuring Medicare too so you don't really have to worry about that – you can use the old "they're taking $500 million out" argument, but that's already been proven to be restructured funding as opposed to a real cut so that's a load. Did I mention that the AMA and the AARP support this plan? Is that because these organizations hate America too? Perhaps doctors and old people are all terrorists now?

    November 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. We Won Get Over It the republican posters. WHO WON A DISTRICT that had been republican for 152 years. A DEMOCRAT. This just goes to show what party will sink even lower. The republicans. Bachmann's own district in Minnesota is recruiting OVER REPUBLICANS to run against her. They don't like the type of extremism that this group of republicans is showing. Win...maybe a governorship in a red state..but in congress heck no..we won both vacant ones.

    Virginia votes half and half republican one time and democrat another. But New Jersey since the early 1900's has voted for republicans 17 times as opposed to 4 times for democrats. So a republican won what so hot about that.

    November 8, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Oliver

    Health Care costs to much, covers to little and its getting is like wearing a hospital gown....the minute you think you have it all covered there is something exposed somewhere......and for too many Americans Health is a choice between death or financial ruin......

    I commend the House of Reps getting it done

    November 8, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Chuck

    Hey, ZimaAdler @ 9:49 am:

    You have exposed yourself as a genuine racist and bigot in thanking "Chairman Cao".

    November 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  24. m jeff

    This is good, most Republicans only support war and guns.

    November 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  25. toby

    So now the Democrats won't run anyone against him?

    November 8, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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