Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he plans to be “very active” in the debate over replacing the Affordable Care Act.
Appearing on Talk Business & Politics to discuss health care, Russia activity in the U.S., and his opposition to a border tax, Cotton said the close margins needed to pass new legislation plus the priority he sees for health care reform will lead him to engaged in the crafting of a solution.
“I expect to be very active in it, obviously, for Arkansans. One of the biggest sources of day-to-day anxiety is the cost of health insurance as premiums go up, as co-pays and deductibles go up, making those insurance premiums less valuable. And while I’m not on the committees that may be writing it, the Senate’s a small place, and a lot of the work gets done in individual interactions. And we have a small majority, so we can’t afford to sacrifice too many votes, so we have to work towards the interest of every individual Senator, and I expect to be very involved in that and making sure that we get a solution that works for Arkansans,” Cotton said.
It’s among his strongest words on the subject yet and an indicator that Cotton feels he can influence the direction of the debate.
“I want to do healthcare reform right. I’m not as concerned about getting it fast, although this is a top priority of ours and I expect we’ll move forward with legislation sometime in the next, you know, two or three months, at the minimum. But Obamacare has made our healthcare system worse. Before Obamacare, it had a lot of problems, it cost too much, not enough people had access to health insurance, and health insurance didn’t give the kind of coverage that people needed. Obamacare supposedly solved those problems. In reality, it’s made those problems worse for a lot of people. So, after we repeal Obamacare, I want to focus on solving those problems, on making healthcare affordable and personalized for everyone so that they can make the right choices for themselves and their families,” he said.
Cotton predicted that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would take time, maybe several years, but that health insurance companies and other stakeholders would have a “transition period” in order for the markets to adjust.
The senator said the Medicare cuts that were part of a trade-off for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare needs to be looked at in the discussion.
“I don’t like the kind of across-the-board draconian cuts that were imposed on Medicare providers: doctors, nurses, hospitals, and so forth,” he said. “Medicaid, ultimately, is probably going have to be a part of healthcare reform because it was so tied up with Obamacare. And what I would like to see on Medicaid expansion is much greater authority and discretion granted to our state governments, so our governor and our legislature can make the right decisions for Arkansans and the population that needs Medicaid in Arkansas.”
Cotton’s interview also included his thoughts on opposing a proposed border tax, which President Trump has floated as an idea to correct an imbalance of trade with Mexico and other countries.
Cotton also discussed at length his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding its investigation of Russia’s attempts to influence the U.S. Presidential election and beyond. Cotton said the committee is in “the second quarter” of its investigation and that “numerous hearings to date” have taken place. Read an earlier interview on the subject reported by TB&P this week. Watch Cotton’s full TB&P interview below.