When it comes to the costs of health care, none of the four candidates for the 14th Congressional District agree on the best route to more affordable medicine.
Incumbent Democrat Bill Foster, Republican Randy Hultgren, Green Party Candidate Dan Kairis and Libertarian write-in Doug Marks all believe the recently passed health care reform law is flawed. But only two candidates believe the law is so bad it must be repealed.
Hultgren told attendees of a luncheon in St. Charles last week that changes created in the new law do nothing to address the cost of health care. He said he would've voted against both the major Democratic versions of the law and will work to undo "Obamacare."
"I think Republicans blew it on this," Hultgren said of the new law. "But I think Democrats blew it even more. We need to get rid of what we've got. Let's repeal it."
Hultgren said he's particularly disappointed in what's become known as the "1099 provision" of the new health care law. The provision requires companies to submit a report to the IRS for every business-to-business transaction made that exceeds $600. Critics view the provision as a nightmare of paperwork and accounting for as many as 30 million small businesses.
"This is going to kill small businesses," Hultgren said.
Although he voted in favor of the new health care reform law, Foster was one of 239 Democrats who recently voted to repeal the provision. That vote failed to receive a two-thirds majority, meaning the provision remains on the books for now. Foster has pledged to work to repeal the provision permanently. He's also spent quite a bit of time explaining why he supported the overall health care reform changes.
Among those reasons, Foster has said requiring more people to have insurance will spare people who've always had insurance from footing the bill for the uninsured through cost increases. Foster has also said eliminating pre-existing conditions as a means of disqualifying someone from insurance coverage was important to keep people from dying simply because they don't have or can't afford health insurance.
Marks said the government forcing people to buy health insurance is one of the major problems he has with the new law.
"They are taking away from the free market by mandating everyone gets covered," Marks said. "And as government puts more and more controls on these insurance companies, they are going to drop out of the business. Then we'll have a full, government-controlled insurance plan. That's socialism."
Marks favors private health savings accounts and an end to employers forcing their workers to have insurance coverage through them. He favors a consumer environment more like getting auto insurance, but using a 401(k)-type account restricted to use for medical needs. Marks also believes health insurance companies should be required to do business in all 50 states to increase competition. None of that, Marks said, is delivered in the health care reform Congress recently delivered.
"I would run, sprint and dance all the way down to repeal that sucker," Marks said.
Kairis isn't ready to go as far as repealing the new law. He said that would take people who couldn't get health insurance before back to the old problem of falling into bankruptcy when a catastrophic medical emergency occurs. Kairis favors the elimination of health insurance companies in favor of a health tax. He said he'd rather have the government try to run the health insurance system with lower overhead than private companies.
"We really have a publicly-financed health care system already," Kairis said. "The public is just paying it through their health insurance premiums. The problem with the new law is it might not change anything, and more people are going to be paying millions to the health insurance industry."