Sen. Tom Cotton says Medicaid reform central to healthcare overhaul debate

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,024 views 

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that 50 votes for healthcare reform don’t presently exist in the U.S. Senate.

“Mitch is a pretty good vote-counter in the Senate, so if he says that, I would suspect that’s where we are right now. Just based on my assessment, that’s where we are,” said Cotton, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics.

Cotton is one of several senators tapped to work on a healthcare overhaul and he thinks there won’t be a proposal put forward from his chamber anytime soon.

“We’re not trying to rush things through. We’re not operating on shortened timelines or artificial deadlines. We’re trying to make sure that we get healthcare reform right,” he said. “I think we can coalesce around a solution that will ultimately get 50 votes and that will improve our healthcare system and it’ll certainly be an improvement over Obamacare.”

Medicaid will be a critical piece of the healthcare puzzle, Cotton said. He thinks reforms will be targeted towards recent expansions of the popular program and bringing down costs, similar to efforts being pushed in Arkansas.

“I think in the long run, Medicaid should be transformed into a system where our governors and legislators have a lot more flexibility and discretion to design the system that works for our states. You know, Arkansas is a very different state from California or Oregon,” said Cotton. “Our governor and our legislature should be able to design a healthcare system that works for our population.”

He added, “Just a couple weeks ago, they had a special session that moved about 60,000 people off of the Medicaid rolls and into private insurance. We’d like to give them more flexibility and more discretion to, say, have small co-payment requirements or adjust income levels to reflect economic and healthcare realities in Arkansas. We’d also like to make sure that other states that spend way more than we do on Medicaid are not continuing to be a drain on taxpayer dollars from Arkansas. Ultimately, our goal should be to get most able-bodied adults off of Medicaid and into a job, or into the individual market, so Medicaid can continue to provide the role that it did before Obamacare, which is supporting the elderly, and the disabled, and the severely poor.”

Watch Cotton’s full interview in the video below, including his comments on President Trump’s first foreign trip, the Trump budget proposal, Cuba and more.