YEAH, CLEAR AS MUD: Boustany Clarifies Obamacare Comments

He got himself in a lake full of hot water earlier this week by suggesting that Louisiana should accept the Medicaid expansion, so naturally Rep. Charles Boustany is now making all the right noises about how much he hates Obamacare.

Boustany penned a piece at The Hill trashing the decision to delay the implementation of the employer mandate…

Short of repeal, no amount of time or tweaking can limit the harms this new $82 billion tax will impose on American job creators. Congress should pass the American Job Protection Act, bipartisan legislation I introduced, to repeal this mandate once and for all. Employers still face uncertainty and workers face a penalty if they choose not to purchase expensive, Washington- approved coverage.

In short, the executive branch has stolen the powers of the legislative branch, with the Democrat-controlled Senate willing to look the other way. Legal experts at the Congressional Research Service doubt “the Executive has unfettered ability to delay implementation of any provision of the Affordable Care Act.” Washington bureaucrats made the cynical calculation that ordinary citizens won’t have sufficient time or legal standing to challenge this power-grab in court before the 2014 elections.

Congress must continue aggressive oversight and continue educating Americans about the worst parts of the law before they take effect. The president should remember his oath of office instead of selectively enforcing the law and defying Constitutional checks and balances. He should ask Congress to repeal it altogether and work with House Republicans on common-sense solutions shown to actually reduce costs. Good policy makes for good politics, Mr. President. The election is over, it’s time to lead.

Then he put out a statement about the delay…

“Time and time again, the Administration assured taxpayers Obamacare would be ready for operation by 2014. Members of the President’s own cabinet, like Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, assured the House Ways and Means Committee no deadlines would be missed due to complications arising from implementation.

“Yet again, last week, the Administration suffered from memory loss as the Treasury Department announced it is delaying enforcement of Obamacare’s employer mandate for one year. The employer mandate doesn’t simply need to be delayed, it needs to be repealed. That’s why I introduced H.R. 903, the American Job Protection Act. It repeals the employer mandate altogether. I remain committed to repealing Obamacare in its entirety and will continue to vote against it as Congress moves forward.”

And then today there’s an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate about how Boustany is “clarifying” what his position is…

Whether he was misconstrued or he is backtracking, Boustany said any such assertions are false.

“My efforts right now are in opposition to Obamacare,” Boustany said. “Medicaid is a deeply flawed program.”

He said he would continue to vote to repeal “Obamacare” and that he would push his bill to permanently repeal the employee mandate of the law, which the Obama administration decided last week to delay until 2015.

Boustany, a retired surgeon, also said he supports Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision not to set up a health insurance exchange in Louisiana.

“I agree with the state’s decision not to create an exchange … The federal government will have to do it,” Boustany said.

Boustany is now saying that Medicaid has to be reformed, which pretty much everybody knows to be the case, and that to expand it without such reform would be a big mistake.

Fair enough. Can you square those statements with this?

Boustany, speaking during and after the lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Lafayette North, said Louisiana could encounter problems by not participating as a state in the ACA.

For example, he said, some Louisianians may believe they will receive Medicaid coverage, but won’t. If the state does not set up an insurance exchange, Boustany said, Louisianians may encounter difficulties in receiving tax credits for their insurance costs.

“It could put Louisiana in a very bad place,” Boustany said. If he were in charge, Boustany said, he would participate in the program and work to reform Medicaid.

“To sit back and do nothing is not an answer,” Boustany said.

Boustany conceded that the ACA was a flawed piece of legislation, “rushed through” Congress by the Obama administration, but said that public officials should work to improve ACA processes. The congressman praised Lafayette General Health System’s public-private initiative that rescued University Medical Center and ushered in medical education at Lafayette General Medical Center.

Surely Boustany doesn’t believe that Louisiana participating in an expansion of Medicaid would serve to promote reform of Medicaid. Surely a veteran member of Congress such as he is can’t be that naive.

We’re not going to accuse Boustany of lying here. But it’s fair to say his “clarification” is anything but clear, and it’s also fair to say that if he thinks more House votes to repeal Obamacare that won’t be acted upon in the Senate is sufficient to prove up his opposition to a plan he on the other hand thinks Louisiana should help implement, he’s got the issue all wrong.

People are tired of this political doublespeak. If Boustany is for the Medicaid expansion, given the state of Medicaid right now, he should say so without any caveats.

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