John Brummett, columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and TB&P frequent contributor, sits down with the two legislative leaders spearheading the Health Reform Task Force, a bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers charged with presenting solutions to ending the private option and addressing larger Medicaid and health care needs in the state.
Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, and Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Sulpher Springs, are the co-chairs of the task force and they sat down with Brummett for an extended discussion on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, which airs Sundays at 9 a.m. on KATV Ch. 7.
In the 20-minute interview, which you can view below in its entirety, Collins and Hendren note that their committee’s scope and reach will be widespread. When asked about ending the private option when it seems to be working, Hendren said it’s not about the program’s success. It’s about its long-term viability.
“The concerns that the people, including myself, had about the private option were not based on how it would perform,” said Hendren. “There’s no question – I don’t dispute the fact and I don’t think any reasonable person disputed the fact – that putting a billion dollars into any industry is going to produce results… The concern is how do we sustain it and how do we afford it.”
Collins said his past support of the program and his future outlook of the committee’s work centers on several fundamental conservative principles: free market forces, personal accountability and responsibility, and finding cost efficiencies in the system.
Collins also said a 1332 waiver, which will become available to states under the ACA law in 2017, would likely be a major factor in the task force’s considerations.
“One of the things that is different, and different in a significant way, is the opportunity to have a very innovative and different system. That’s one example and I think there are others. How do we build on where we’ve been, take the innovation we’ve already brought forward, and add to it to do the things that are going to be as fiscally responsible and market-oriented that we can?” Collins said.
The biggest bombshell from the interview centered on Hendren’s explanation that there may be other more cost-effective mechanisms for providing health services to citizens than through the subsidized private option health insurance program.
“Is the goal to provide health care services or health care insurance?” said Hendren. “What I ask people who think insurance is the answer, is there any evidence that shows that improves health care?”
Hendren and Collins said a firm hired late in the week, The Stephen Group of New Hampshire, would be helping drive the data to answer that question and others.
You can watch the extended interview and a Q&A with Brummett and TB&P host Roby Brock in the video below.