Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., thinks the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace Obamacare will have upside for the Natural State despite projections that Arkansas could take a $6 billion hit over the next seven years and warnings from healthcare professionals.
Boozman, who appeared on this week’s Talk Business & Politics, based his confidence on conversations he said he’s had with Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who supports Graham-Cassidy’s basic tenets of pushing health insurance decisions to the state level for policy-making and funding distribution.
“I have all the confidence in the world in the governor,” said Boozman. “The team that he’s put together is one of the premier teams in the country, and so, they’ve had tremendous input into this bill and they feel like the funding’s going to be fine.”
“We won’t have the 10% state match, which is worth a ton of money in the future. We’ll have the flexibility, so that they can take those dollars and not be dictated by Health and Human Services, but, through the legislature, and the governor, they can decide how to use those dollars. They feel like they can use it much more cost-effectively than the guidelines that they’re currently having to use,” Boozman added.
An Avalere Health report last week suggested that Arkansas could lose as much as $6 billion in federal funding over the next seven years and another study from the Kaiser Family Foundation also suggested Arkansas would be negatively impacted by the measure.
The Graham-Cassidy bill, which has no support from Senate Democrats and opposition from at least two GOP senators, would provide block grant federal funding to the states for Medicaid and would allow for many policy decisions such as pre-existing condition treatment to be made at the state level. It also rolls back key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual and employer mandates and caps on premiums.
While many national healthcare organizations representing hospitals, physicians and patients have strongly denounced the plan, Republicans have moved forward in their efforts to secure 50 votes in the U.S. Senate. President Donald Trump is also supportive of the Graham-Cassidy measure and a vote is expected before a September 30 deadline.
Boozman said if Graham-Cassidy doesn’t pass, he still sees a path forward for some healthcare reform. He said it would be bipartisan in nature and take more time to implement.
“I think we’ll continue to try and find some avenues again. I mean, I’d like to repeal and replace Obamacare. Short-term, [Sen.] Lamar Alexander, through the Health Committee, is working on some things, but it’s difficult,” said Boozman. “I’m not going to vote for the answer to be more Obamacare to save Obamacare, nor am I, very definitely, not going to say that the answer is to give the insurance companies, to bail them out even more, to make it such that this things works.”
“So, it’s a difficult situation. There’s lots of people working on it and I really am encouraged now that we’ve got the governors in play, and the people through the states that are actively engaged, and I think, at the end of the day, we’ll come up with something again to repeal and replace,” he added.
Watch Boozman’s full interview below.