Friday, June 16, 2017

Q&A with John Boozman on the secret health care bill. Translation: Mush

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge 'WORKING HARD': So says Sen. John Boozman on secret health care talks. Specifics? None inevidence.
  • 'WORKING HARD': So says Sen. John Boozman on secret health care talks. Specifics? None inevidence.
Vox asked eight U.S. senators, including John Boozman of Arkansas, what they hoped to accomplish with the health legislation being crafted in secret by Senate Republicans.

The answers were illuminating insofar as they indicated how little useful senators can or will say about the stealth legislation. Boozman, never known for incisive commentary, was particularly obfuscatory. In short: Obamacare bad. We'll do something good. What? Don't know.

Jeff Stein
What do you think this health care bill will accomplish? How will it help people in America with their health insurance?

John Boozman
Well, right now when I go back to Arkansas — we’ve got so many people in Arkansas, premiums have gone up 128 percent in the past four years. We have all kinds of people in a situation where if they’re fortunate enough to afford the premium, they’ve got $5 to $10,000 deductibles. And so hopefully we’ll deal with some of those problems

Jeff Stein
How does this bill do that?

John Boozman
Well it makes it such that it’s more affordable. So that’s really what we’re working through now. We don’t have a bill yet; we’re working hard to come to an agreement so we can solve some of those problems.

Jeff Stein
Why will this bill reduce premiums? How will it lead to the outcome you’re describing?

John Boozman
Well, again, like I said, that’s what we’re working through here. I’m not going to negotiate the bill now. We’re in a situation where that is the outcome.

I know that the course we’re going down is simply not sustainable. The other problem we’ve got is that premiums were held down through the election; the premiums, in my state, the increase will be at least 20 to 25 percent. That’s what the insurance commissioners are telling me. I think we’re on an unsustainable course.

Jeff Stein
But I’m curious why you believe this bill will fix that problem? What’s the mechanism for fixing it?

John Boozman
It’s working together and coming up with a bill that does do that. Because we’re in a situation with Obamacare that, again, we don’t have a sustainable product.

Jeff Stein
Why is cutting Medicaid necessary?

John Boozman
I’m not going to argue with you. Who do you represent?

Jeff Stein
Vox-dot-com. It’s a website. I’m just trying to understand how the bill works. That’s it.

John Boozman
Well, we don’t have a bill. That’s what we’re working on. The reason we’re working really hard to come up with a bill is to solve some of the problems of Obamacare.

Because of the problems I outlined we have a lot of people in a situation with increased premiums, increased deductibles. If you’re an Arkansan you have a $5,000 deductible, you really don’t have insurance. You have catastrophic insurance and after that it’s not such that you don’t have everything paid for — it’s probably an 80-20 match after that. So these are real problems that affect real people. We’re trying to come up with a solution that makes things more affordable.

We come up with a bill, and then Health and Human Services — [Secretary of Health and Human Services] Dr. [Tom] Price is working hard — the bill that was written, Obamacare, the way it was written, they have a lot of flexibility. We’re looking for ways to put more flexibility in the system. We have a bunch of counties next year that simply won’t only not have limited competition; they’re going to be in a situation where … there…

Jeff Stein
I know the bill isn’t done, but what do you think in the general Republican overhaul — what do you think Obamacare is doing right now that isn’t allowing these problems to be taken care of? What is your hope for what the Republican bill will do to change the problem you’re identifying?

John Boozman
I think Obamacare, the problem with it is there is nothing in it to drive down and contain costs. That was the problem we had going into health care when we were trying to fix it, was affordability.

Jeff Stein
So you think this will drive down costs. How?

John Boozman
Again, that’s what we’re trying to work through. Identifying the solutions that will work.
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