Capitol View: Sen. Boozman, Mike Ross Argue Health Care Positions

by Roby Brock ( 3 views 

Sen. John Boozman (R) insisted that repealing, not reforming, Obamacare was the only tenable position for improving health insurance in the U.S., while Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross said Republicans have misrepresented his positions on the controversial law.

Both men appeared in separate interviews on this week’s Capitol View political program on KARK Ch. 4.  You can watch their full interviews at the bottom of this post.

Boozman said the Affordable Care Act is not working. He contends that employers are scheming to scale back full-time workers below a threshold to qualify them for part-time work to avoid offering insurance. He also says that premiums are rising much more than expected, contrary to the law’s purpose, and that rising taxes tied to Obamacare are unsustainable.

“I would like to repeal it,” Boozman said. “We need to do that but you can do it without spending an additional trillion dollars in taxes.”

Boozman, a successful ophthalmologist before becoming a member of Congress, said his primary solution to reforming health insurance is to allow the free market to operate like car and home insurance. He advocates insurance pools for like-minded groups, supports health insurance companies crossing state lines, and argues tort reform is also needed to reduce health insurance costs.

“You can do it through the free market system. You do it by increasing competition. Tonight, we’ll see the Geico commercial on this station or some station. We can buy our car insurance wherever you want to buy it, you can buy your house insurance wherever you want to buy it. The same should be true of health care insurance,” he said.

When pressed that free market forces weren’t making reforms before the federal health care law passed, Boozman agreed, but said the political environment is different today.

“I agree with that totally. We’re there now. I think those pressures are there. We understand something needs to be done,” he said.

Boozman also discussed a potential federal government shutdown debate that Congress will take up after the August recess. He said this debate will be more serious than in the past as none of the major funding bills for government have been passed, so it will be difficult to keep operations open if a resolution isn’t found.

While Boozman won his Senate seat in 2010 by a 21-point margin, he doesn’t think the 2014 match-up between Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Cong. Tom Cotton (R ) will be a blow-out. He expects a very close race.

“I think it’s going to be very competitive,” he said. “Voters will have a very clear choice regarding the issues.”

The issue of health care also was a center point of discussion for Mike Ross, the only Democratic candidate for Governor still in the race.

Republicans have argued that Ross was “a deciding vote for Obamacare” in a House committee in 2009, a claim Ross strongly disputes.

“First of all, that’s a lie. There was no ‘deciding vote.’ The vote was 31-28. People who continue to blog, and through social media, and even those on this program who continue to say that I was a deciding vote need to go back to third grade math because there’s no deciding vote in a 31-28 vote,” Ross said.

Ross said the bill he worked on in that committee was not the President’s plan. It was one of several bills aimed at making improvements to health insurance. He contends that he put the brakes on Obamacare by calling for House leadership to allow members to go back to their home districts during the August recess to gauge public support or disapproval.

“I led the effort to put the brakes on to say, ‘Whoa, we need time where Congress needs to go home and listen to their constituents, face their constituents before casting a vote this important.’ And that’s what I did,” said Ross.

He held 80 town halls across the Fourth District, which he used to represent, and learned that “everybody and their brother and their momma were against” the President’s plan.

“I did my job as a representative. I listened to the people and I voted no,” Ross argued. “In fact, I’m the only candidate who is running for Governor who has voted against Obamacare and voted to repeal Obamacare. The bill they talk about is a bill that happened 8 months earlier. It had a different bill number, it had a different name.. .It didn’t work in 2010 and it won’t work in 2014.”

Ross received an endorsement from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D) on Saturday morning. He said Beebe’s endorsement “helps with momentum” that Ross has garnered by clearing the field in his bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor and raising over $2 million in the second quarter of this year.

“This is the governor with the highest approval rating of any governor in America,” Ross said. “Getting Gov. Beebe’s endorsement just keeps that momentum going.”

You can watch Ross’ and Boozman’s full interviews below.