Dr. Boozman's Check-up

The Government Shutdown and Obamacare

What Does Senator Boozman Think of the Government Shutdown?

A government shutdown has real implications for seniors, veterans and hardworking Arkansas families who rely on the services provided by federal agencies.

Boozman has tried to prevent a shutdown, but there has been no willingness to on the part of Majority Leader Reid to compromise. He has refused to even allow the Senate to consider the last three House-passed continuing resolutions. And now he just shot down an effort to form a committee between the two chambers to resolve this and has stated he will not entertain the idea of individual spending bills to keep agencies like the

It’s time to come together and find commonsense solutions to our challenges. America functions best when we work through our differences and come together and address our country's problems.

Does Senator Boozman Oppose Obamacare?

YES. Senator Boozman has been fighting against Obamacare for nearly five years. He opposed Obamacare when Nancy Pelosi brought it to the floor of the House of Representatives. He’s voted to repeal Obamacare. He’s voted to defund ObamaCare. He’s voted to chisel away at parts of Obamacare. And he’s fought against Obamacare’s waste, abuse, and fraud.

Does Senator Boozman Support Defunding Obamacare?

YES. Senator Boozman has always supported defunding, delaying, repealing, and replacing Obamacare.

Does Senator Boozman Support the “Defund Obamacare Political Campaign” associated with the current CR?

NO. The current “Defund Obamacare Effort” is a misleading campaign. Some suggest that if Republicans threaten to shut down the government, we can force Harry Reid to defund Obamacare. This is simply not true. 

As Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has said, the defunding claims are “tremendously erroneous” and “not intellectually honest.” The independent Congressional Research Service concluded that even with a government shutdown, Obamacare would remain alive and funded.  The vast majority of Obamacare spending is mandatory spending that Congress does not control.

Case in point: On the same day the government shut down, the Obamacare exchanges still launched, albeit with problems as we predicted. The wheels in motion cannot be stopped by defunding because of the manner in which the program is funded. We need another approach to stop this terrible law.

Does Senator Boozman Support a Government Shutdown to Repeal Obamaare?

NO. Causing a government shutdown does not move us closer to repealing or defunding Obamacare. In fact, shutting down the government is making it harder for us to repeal Obamacare. Instead of focusing on higher healthcare premiums, government rationing, Medicare cuts, and President Obama's false promises, the White House and the Senate Majority are playing political games. This distraction plays into President Obama's hand

Moreover, a shutdown is the wrong way to govern. In this fragile economy, it is simply not fair to hold Americans hostage for political gain. It’s not the right way to run government. It’s the very reason the American people hold Washington in low regard.

We must repeal Obamacare. However, we need to be smart about how we oppose this President and his agenda. President Obama will not sign legislation that destroys his signature initiative and the Democratic Senate majority won’t approve this legislation that accomplishes this. Moving forward, Senator Boozman will continue to fight against this failed law so the American people demand its full repeal.

Why did Senator Boozman support cloture on the Continuing Resolution?

Senator Boozman supported each of the House-passed bills to keep the government operating. The first bill the House sent over would have accomplished our goals of keeping the government operating and defunding Obamacare. Avoiding a government shutdown is a good policy that protects hardworking Americans. Unfortunately, that bill was changed. Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped language to defund this problematic law and Senator Boozman could no longer support it. This is not the end of our fight. We will continue our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that contain costs.

Senator Boozman voted for cloture on the first House-passed bill because it would defund Obamacare and keep the government operating. It defies logic to vote against a bill that accomplishes our objectives.

Failure to have obtained cloture would have only resulted in a government shutdown, which is eventually where Majority Leader Reid led us. However, failing to move that first bill forward would have put the blame for a shutdown squarely on the Republicans. A government shutdown doesn’t repeal Obamacare. The vast majority of Obamacare spending is mandatory spending that Congress does not control.

If President Obama were to somehow receive a continuing resolution that defunded his landmark law, he would veto it. We would need 67 votes in the Senate to override that veto. Simple math shows you that with a Democrat Majority, the numbers are simply not there.

There was no end game with this strategy, outside of a government shutdown, which is why Senator Boozman could not support it.

If you had been told anything different would result from voting against cloture, you were being misled.

Wasn't this the last chance to end Obamacare?  

Not by a long shot. This program is falling apart faster than it can roll out. We have seen the snags in the programs when it launched and there will continue to be problems. Leaders who helped usher the bill through Congress have called its implementation a ‘trainwreck.’ We have opportunities to capitalize on that by picking it apart piece by piece. 

A government shutdown has real implications for seniors, veterans and hardworking Arkansas families who rely on the services provided by federal agencies.

This is exactly what we were trying to prevent, but there has been no willingness to on the part of Majority Leader Reid to compromise. He has refused to even allow the Senate to consider the last three House-passed continuing resolutions. And now he just shot down an effort to form a committee between the two chambers to resolve this.

It’s time to come together and find commonsense solutions to our challenges. America functions best when we work through our differences and come together and address our country's problems.

With the exchanges opening tomorrow, we see it is clearly not ready to provide the American people what they were promised; affordable health care. We have seen the problems caused with already with implementing this problematic law. The authors and opponents of the law called it a ‘train wreck.’ It costs too much, hurts American job creators and increases premiums for Arkansas families.

Americans overwhelmingly reject this law. They also overwhelmingly want to avoid a government shutdown, which we are hours away from if the Senate fails to act on a bill to keep the government running.

That is why I support the bill the House of Representatives passed over the weekend to delay Obamacare for one year and keep the government open. The President has already granted multiple exemptions from the law to his political allies. Let’s be fair and give the same relief to every American.

Along with that bill, Majority Leader Reid should also bring up the House-passed bill to ensure our troops are paid if the Senate Majority refuses to work with the House Majority to avoid a shutdown.  For our brave men and women in the armed services, receiving their salary to pay their bills as a result of Washington’s inaction is the last thing they need to worry about.

Agriculture is critical to Arkansas and our rural communities and our state’s economy. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am committed to supporting both the producers of our food and fiber and the communities in which they live. One out of every six jobs in Arkansas is tied to agriculture and we’re working to craft agriculture policies that ensure our state’s agriculture continues to thrive. The Farm Bill, legislation that directs government policy for major agriculture and nutrition programs, expires today and we need to have the necessary protections in place for our industry. 

Our agriculture producers need certainty to plan for the future. The reauthorization of a five-year Farm Bill is required for our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to plan for the future and continue to create good jobs for working Arkansas families. 

The Senate and House of Representatives have passed bills that protect our agriculture producers and I am encouraging my colleagues in Congress to work together to pass a five-year Farm Bill into law. This needs to be a top priority for Congress as it discusses spending in the continuing resolution and the upcoming debt ceiling debate.  We cannot allow our agriculture economy and the neediest members of our communities to suffer the uncertainty created by the failed politics of Washington.

The Administration is failing to protect the Second Amendment by signing the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (U.N. ATT). Secretary of State John Kerry signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty today without the support of many Senators including myself. This is a policy reversal from both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration. 

This is the ultimate disregard for our Constitution, a challenge to the authority of Congress to regulate firearms within the United States and infringement on our Second Amendment right. I believe this is a backdoor approach to chip away at every law abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms. I will vote against this treaty when it comes before the Senate. 

Fortunately, two-thirds of the Senate must approve the treaty for ratification and I don’t believe that support exists. Earlier this year 53 Senators went on record supporting an amendment to prohibit the State Department from negotiating this treaty.

As a cosponsored of S. Con. Res. 7, a bipartisan resolution that makes clear a U.N. ATT that undermines constitutional freedoms of American gun owners will not be ratified by the Senate, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the Senate does not ratify this unnecessary and unconstitutional treaty.

Tele-Town Hall

Sep 24 2013

We hosted a tele-town hall last night. Don’t worry if you missed it, you can listen to the conversation here. If you are interested in participating in our next event sign-up here. We had a great conversation about some of the issues Washington is debating and working to solve.  We appreciate the involvement and taking the time to talk with us.

It's Been Five Years

Sep 19 2013

Today marks the five-year anniversary of the State Department receiving TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. After four environmental studies that all concluded that there would be no significant impact along the proposed route to refineries in Texas, we are still waiting for the President to sign off on this important project that will jumpstart job creation and help reduce our dependence on oil from unstable regimes. 

If the President is serious about job creation, he needs to give Keystone XL the green light. This would support more than 40,000 jobs nationwide during construction including in Arkansas. Natural State businesses and workers would benefit from this project. Keystone XL would have a big economic impact, with the investment of $5.3 billion in the U.S. economy. 

While governors in the states in which the pipeline will travel through support the project, the ultimate decision rests with the State Department and the President. The State Department has conducted the studies, and each time, the results show it is environmentally safe. It’s time to stop talking and analyzing and finally begin construction.

Earlier this month, I joined Senator John Thune (R-SD) to introduce the Union Bailout Prevention Act. This bill would prevent the Obama administration from granting unions a special exemption from Obamacare.

While we work to bring this bill up for a vote, we have to remain vigilant as this Administration makes it a practice to impose its will through the regulatory process when legislative success is unachievable. 

That’s why I joined twenty of my colleagues to urge the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Sylvia Burwell to prohibit union health plans from receiving a carve-out in Obamacare, specifically premium assistance tax credits that are intended for the uninsured to purchase health insurance – a benefit no non-union member in America would receive.

Our letter reads in part, “The new health care law is clear that taxpayer-funded premium assistance credits are intended for low-to-middle income Americans without access to affordable insurance through an employer and who purchase health insurance through the new state-based exchanges. The fact is that Taft-Hartley union health plans are not exchange-based plans—rather, they are employer-sponsored health plans. Providing union members with a benefit not afforded to non-union employees is grossly unfair to every non-union worker in America who would receive no such special carve out from the health care law.”

Click on the attachment below to read the letter in its entirety. 

In 2013, more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It is considered the deadliest gynecologic cancer and is the fifth leading cause of death in women who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. This year, it is projected that just over 14,000 women will die due to advanced stage ovarian cancer.

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, with 1 in 72 at risk for being diagnosed with an invasive form of the cancer. There is currently no reliable form of early detection when it comes to ovarian cancer. The symptoms often times are confused with the symptoms of other diseases, and in 75 percent of known cases, the cancer has time to progress into late to advanced stages before being diagnosed. Because of this, the overall five year survival rate is only 46 percent. This hasn’t decreased much in the 40 years since the “War on Cancer” began.

This is why I joined a group of my colleagues to introduce a Senate-passed resolution that designates September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Our resolution expresses the Senate’s support for increasing awareness of the symptoms and preventative measures to the national stage in hopes that a quicker diagnoses can be made and give women a greater chance of survival. 

We wrote this for The Hill to highlight our continued efforts to develop new ways to improve  health care for our military personnel and veterans.

Veterans deserve innovative care

By Sen. John Boozman 

Our United States Armed Forces always answer when called on to defend our nation and the American people. With every new assignment, our men and women in uniform face unique challenges; as does our nation in caring for their needs.

During a visit to Landstuhl Air Base in Germany, I spoke with one soldier who had just sustained life-altering injuries. His first question was “Will I ever walk again?” Because of the advances in medicine and technology, I was able to answer with a confident “yes.” 

Service members are returning home today from combat having survived catastrophic attacks that would have claimed their lives in previous conflicts. While this is great news, it also means that more men and women are returning with unprecedented injuries and we are diligently treating all types of wounds.

This requires a collective effort between patients, doctors, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Congress. This unified goal has produced results. 

It became apparent to service members and physicians that we needed to improve eye care when military personnel were showing similar symptoms. As an eye care provider, I joined ophthalmologists and optometrists to solve this problem and introduced the Military Eye Trauma Treatment Act. This legislation created the Vision Center of Excellence (VCE) — a Department of Defense and VA partnership to ensure that our troops who have sustained eye-related injuries receive the best practices and treatment possible.

Impaired vision can be an overlooked side effect of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Since 2000 more than 273,000 service members have suffered from some form of TBI. Some require rehabilitative services while those with the most severe cases need help caring for their basic needs. As we continue to enhance and upgrade care, we can see where there is room for improvement. 

Last Congress I introduced legislation to advance rehabilitation for TBI to encompass comprehensive care that includes physical and mental health needs as well as striving for long-term recovery and improving the quality of life. Fortunately, this legislation was passed as part of a broader veterans’ benefits bill. 

More than 80 percent of TBI is classified as mild, but we have a responsibility to provide services for these invisible injuries. New and innovative methods are empowering our wounded warriors, and organizations are joining in the fight to help veterans live fulfilling lives despite the challenges of TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder and other catastrophic injuries. 

Outdoor and recreational based therapy, like Rivers of Recovery, has proven successful at helping veterans who have been physically and psychologically injured during military service. This unique program takes advantage of self-awareness, meditation and other techniques through the medium of fishing. Anything that we can do to speed-up their recovery is a step worth taking. 

We are blessed to have great partners who provide their expertise on this road to recovery as we find alternative approaches to medicine and rehabilitation. The United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Military and Veteran Programs make a big impact on the quality of life for thousands of injured military personnel and veterans with its adaptive sports program. I encourage my colleagues to continue this program that has made a dramatic impact on the health of our wounded warriors. Congress should reauthorize this program so it can continue to provide our service members and veterans with this rehabilitation opportunity and improve their quality of life. 

American citizens have been inspired and united by the courage of the men and women fighting the War on Terror. The challenges of the landscape and fighting by insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq forced us to devise innovative methods of combat. We must be equally innovative while seeking ways to assist and empower service members during their recovery from the injuries and challenges they face once they leave the battlefield. 

As the son of a master sergeant in the Air Force, I am familiar with the sacrifices of troops and their families that don’t end when these brave men and women return home. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, our men and women in uniform have faced new and unique injuries and we, in turn, are constantly updating and revising the ways we address healthcare for our active duty military and the needs of our veterans. We have made remarkable progress but we can’t forget the fundamentals. The VA and Congress need to continue to address the claims backlog and improve access to services so we can honor our commitment to help heal the wounds of war and fully integrate these warriors back into the community.

Boozman is the junior senator from Arkansas, elected in 2010. He sits on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as well as the Appropriations, the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and the Environment and Public Works committees.