Congressman Mike Johnson spoke briefly about civility and healthcare reform Monday at a town hall inside the Council Chambers room of the Minden Civic Center.
Johnson, a Republican who previously served as State Rep., was elected to represent Louisiana’s 4th congressional district in December and has since been busy, catching himself on the opposite end of telephone and face-to-face conversations with President Donald Trump.
On Monday, he found himself facing approximately 15 Webster Parish residents, including Minden Mayor Tommy Davis, Minden Chief of Police Steve Cropper and Webster Parish Tax Assessor Morris Guin, all there to listen and show their support for Johnson.
“It’s kind of like being welcomed back home,” Johnson said. “We’ve been at lots of different venues throughout the district at these town halls, but seeing my old office and my wife being from Sibley certainly makes Webster Parish a special place to me.”
Johnson says he has been doing his best to represent the best interests of his constituents, a calling that’s caused him to speak out against the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare.
“It’s a very, very difficult problem to solve,” Johnson said of healthcare reform. “You’ve heard Obamacare described as being in a death spiral… We’re at a 123% increase in premiums in our state. If you do the math, the average Louisianian is paying 3,650 dollars more for their health insurance premium than they were in 2013.”
Johnson said deductibles are also on the rise.
“If we gave everybody a brand new cadillac and parked it in their driveway, it’s not going to do them any good if they can’t afford to put fuel in the tank; to use what the government is giving you,” Johnson said. “The deductibles are so high that some people can’t actually access their healthcare plan. That’s why we’re taking action right now.”
Johnson said if something doesn’t change “dramatically” that insurance is heading off a cliff.
“Large parts of several states will have no insurance provider at all,” Johnson said. “The accurate number as of Friday, is 49 counties in the country will have no
insurance at all as of January, and that number goes up every day.”
Despite the need for a dramatic replacement bill, Johnson was a no-vote on the first drafting of President Trump’s Affordable Health Care Act. Johnson explained that he couldn’t ignore the abysmal Congressional Budget Office score heaped upon the first iteration, but added that revisions to reinfuse free-market principles, cover pre-existing conditions and exploration of policies such as risk-sharing pools now have him on board, pending what happens to the bill in the Senate.
Johnson also spoke about the condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise who was shot during a congressional baseball practice back in June. Scalise was released from the hospital after a short-stint in intensive care, but an infection at the site of his wound has forced Scalise back to the hospital and put his health in question.
In hyper-partisan times where heinous acts such as Scalise’s shooting are becoming more and more frequent, Johnson has taken a stand against harsh political discourse and created a commitment to civility pledge for his fellow freshmen class members in Congress.
One paragraph of the pledge reads: Although we represent both political parties and a wide range of individual views across the political spectrum, our common and sincere aims are to serve the needs and interests of the American people, to work with one another and the leaders of our respective parties to encourage greater confidence in our institutions, and to set an example of statesmanship for the younger generations of Americans that will follow.
Johnson reported that 50 of 55 congressman signed his pledge.
Following the meeting, Johnson thanked his staff members for being on-hand and helpful in setting up for his town hall, including his Chief of Staff Hayden Haynes of Minden. Haynes served as Johnson’s campaign manager for the congressional race and is now working and living in Washington D.C.