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6th District candidates debate health care

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Solutions for providing health care for more people at an affordable price has been a divisive issue between Democrats and Republicans, and remains at the forefront as the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The Democratic and Republican candidates for Indiana’s 6th District seat in Congress hold a wide range of views about the direction and future of health care in America.

Republican solutions

The majority of the Republican candidates — Don Bates Jr., Bill Frazier, Travis Hankins, Luke Messer and Joseph Van Wye — said they want the 2010 health care law repealed.

“The future of healthcare in America should be found in our free enterprise system, and left to the choosing of Americans without federal mandates,” Bates said.

Joe Sizemore, though, said that if elected he’d listen to his constituents to see if they support or oppose a governmental role in helping to cover or subsidize insurance for people without coverage.

However, he also doesn’t agree with the aspect of the health care law that mandates that people must have health insurance.

“The government shouldn’t say we have to buy anything,” he said.

After years of the federal government moving into the health care system, it needs to move into the free market private sector of medicine “with as little oversight as possible,” Frazier said.

He supports health savings accounts, the ability to shop for insurance over state lines, tort reform and allowing individuals to assemble in like-minded groups to shop for health coverage.

The health care law costs too much, hampers job providers and will lead to a reduction in the quality of health care in America, Messer said.

The health care system needs repair, he said, so he supports requiring health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and stop charging higher premiums to sick people; making health insurance policies portable from job to job and state to state; providing tax credits to small businesses that provide health coverage for their employees; providing incentives for preventative care to put an emphasis on keeping people healthy, rather than treating the unhealthy; andtort reforms that end frivolous lawsuits that cause doctors to practice defensive medicine.

Hankins believes the federal government should have no role in healthcare, and he thinks too much insurance already exists in the U.S.

“We need catastrophic coverage for hospital stays and unexpected disease, but insurance for our routine medical care and much of our medicine is a big part of the problem. We need to get back to paying with cash as much as possible, as cash lowers the costs for everyone,” Hankins said.

The health care law is too costly at a time when the U.S. economy is strained and the country has mounting debt, said Van Wye.

He supports health savings accounts and letting insurance companies compete with each other across state lines.

“Most people who do not have insurance do not have it by choice, and those who cannot afford insurance still get health care when they go to the hospital,” Van Wye said. “The government already has in place programs that help those who do not have insurance.”

Democrats’ ideas

The government is moving “in the right direction by trying to cover more Americans,” said Jim Crone, because the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have health care for all of its people.

Health care costs, most importantly for drugs, can be lowered in the short term, he said, by negotiating with drug companies, buying in bulk and having more nonprofit insurance companies provide health insurance for people at reasonable prices.

In the long-term, Crone said, the U.S. needs to study other countries and adopt their best practices to create a system where all people receive health care coverage.

The 2010 health care law is and was designed as “a work in progress,” Brad Bookout said.

As for health care overall, he’s interested in how advances in efficiency and effectiveness can contain or lower health care costs, but not at the expense of the quality of care. And, he said, he's concerned about the special health needs of women and that any policies implemented do not harm small businesses.

Dan Bolling said some private companies in the Midwest have successful health care spending on employees, so models could be applied on larger scales. He said the most important factors that would drive down costs are a greater emphasis on primary care to manage chronic conditions and greater price transparency.

The health care law being reviewed by the Supreme Court does more than just provide access to care for the uninsured, Bolling said. It also contains numerous pilot programs and cost-saving initiatives that he said “must go forward, regardless of the outcome of the current court case.”

Susan Heitzman said she is concerned for women because of conservative views about abortion rights.

“I am concerned that women have been manipulated into thinking one group is righteous and the other unrighteous because of the legalization of abortion … I am hopeful we can move on and begin working together to change the cultural climate of violence, war, abuse, fear and uncontrolled self-righteous and judgmental anger,” she said.

George Holland also believes all Americans would be served best by a national health care plan because it would provide more care at a lower cost, and take the excessive profit out of health care.

However, he also wants the 2010 health care law repealed because “it’s a gift to the health insurance industry.”

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