Congressman Mike Johnson and his staff held a Town Hall meeting at the Library in Coushatta on Wednesday, August 2nd. He reviewed actions taken by the US House since the current term began in January. And Johnson took questions from area residents in attendance.
Discussing issues affecting Red River Parish most directly, Johnson said, “I’m in there advocating for improvements in the state. I want to strengthen the role of Barksdale (Air Force Base) and Fort Polk. I also want to see reforms of the Veterans Administration.
Johnson said the most pressing issue facing the country is the national debt, which is now at 20 Trillion dollars (that is 9+ zeroes or $20,000,000,000.00). His list of priorities for controlling spending is reforming health care, the tax code, and reducing government regulations on business.
On health care reform, Johnson said, “Four to six percent of the people have chronic illnesses and they incur most of the costs of health care. If we are to cover pre-existing conditions the problem is how to pay for it.” Johnson wants to create an “invisible” risk sharing pool for chronically ill patients. He said this would allow premiums and costs for the other 94-96 percent to decrease, to become affordable. Johnson says to pay for the high-risk pool there would be a small surcharge on insurance policies.
At the town hall, the Journal asked Congressman Johnson to comment on proposed changes to retirement benefits that affect military retirees, the unemployability disability benefit. The proposal is to stop the disability benefit when the recipient reaches the age of retirement in favor of that person receiving social security. Johnson said some people say that benefit is a windfall. Johnson disagrees, “We have to protect those, including veterans, who depend upon that disability income.”