Boustany clarifies Obamacare comments

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany clarified his stance and contended that he opposes the Affordable Care Act and he does not want Louisiana to accept the federal Medicaid expansion without “significant reform” of the health care program for low-income residents.

Boustany, R-Lafayette, explained himself after he spent a few days taking criticism from conservatives and being praised by liberals for interpretations of comments that he made last week after a lunch meeting at the Rotary Club of Lafayette North.

Some media outlets and websites contended that Boustany wanted the Medicaid expansion in Louisiana and that he thought the state should build its insurance exchange.

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 employer 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.

Last week, The Daily Advertiser newspaper reported that Boustany argued that inaction is not the answer.

“It could put Louisiana in a very bad place,” Boustany reportedly said. “To sit back and do nothing is not an answer.”

But Boustany said this week that he was not advocating for the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare. He said he was arguing that Medicaid must be “reformed” in order to be more financially efficient and focused on doctor-patient care and that the state should play a role in such efforts.

“To expand Medicaid without a significant reform … would be a big mistake,” he said.

After his comments last week, Boustany was quickly attacked by conservative news websites like RedState.com. The website contended that Boustany should lose his chairmanship of the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee because of his remarks.

On the other hand, the left-leaning TalkingPointsMemo.com news website touted Boustany’s statements as a giant break for GOP support of the Medicaid expansion.

“A powerful Republican congressman from Louisiana wants his state to take up the Medicaid expansion made optional by Obamacare and build an insurance exchange to implement the law, breaking with his GOP governor and conservatives on an explosive issue,” the TalkingPointsMemo.com story stated.