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Johnson: Free market best solution to rising health care costs

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LAFAYETTE — Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said this weekend that the best replacement for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is free market competition.

The Republican held a town hall meeting at Connell’s Supper Club in Lafayette Saturday evening where one resident asked him what he would propose to replace the president’s signature piece of domestic legislation.

Johnson’s response was to suggest that part of the reason why health care costs have gotten so high is because free market forces have been removed from the health care industry.

“We’ve separated the consumer of the product from the cost of the product,” Johnson said. “We pay for insurance — we don’t pay for the products and services that insurance covers.”

He claims that moving the funding of health care services to third party payers prevents free market price controls from working. The senator pointed to health savings accounts as an example of how health care could be handled in a more free market-like system.

When asked how he would handle people with pre-existing conditions, Johnson cited high risk pools as a solution.

A high risk pool is a form of group insurance where people who don’t qualify for standard insurance can get coverage. Johnson said the ACA effectively ended high-risk pool programs.

Free market forces are the best way to control costs and increase quality, he said.

Johnson also fielded questions on the nation’s budget deficit, a problem he says nobody in Washington — either Republican or Democrat — wants to acknowledge.

“If we are going to start tackling these enormous problems, we have to identify (the problem) and properly define it,” he said, going on to outline just how bad he thinks the problem is.

“We don’t have a 10-year budget problem,” Johnson said. “We have a demographic problem.

“I’m the bearer of bad news,” he said before stating that the country faces a $126 trillion budget deficit over the next 30 years. Of that amount, he says $71 trillion is interest.

“Let’s figure out how to plug that deficit hole so we don’t have that interest,” he said.

At the beginning of the town hall meeting, Johnson expressed his opposition to the nomination of Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney general, and spoke briefly about his work as chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.


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