Candidates for 12th Congressional district seat speak to health care

Each week, the Sun-Gazette will be talking to candidates for public office on topics impacting voters. This week, a question was posed to candidates for 12th Congress. The candidates are Republican Fred Keller, the incumbent; Democrat Lee Griffin, and Libertarian Liz Terwilliger.

Question: What steps can be taken by government to ensure better and more affordable health care for everyone?

Keller: “We need to ensure health care is accessible and affordable for all Americans while also protecting those with pre-existing conditions. However, we cannot bankrupt our country with socialist policies like the $32 trillion Medicare for All scheme. We need to continue to explore practical ways to reduce the cost of healthcare.

“I’m proud to support legislation that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions, lowers the cost of prescription drugs by making it easier to get generics to market, and re-evaluates Medicare reimbursement rates between urban and rural hospitals to ensure rural communities maintain access to quality care.

“In addition, we need to increase insurance competition by allowing consumers to do things like purchase insurance across state lines and allow businesses to pool together in lower-cost association health plans.”

Griffin: “First, we need to maintain the protections in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) including pre-existing conditions and Medicaid expansion among many other things, rather than repealing the law or striking it down in court.

“The ACA provided coverage to 20 million Americans who stand to lose coverage without it. It is also vital to continue payroll tax funding for Medicare. A recent executive order suspended that funding, and the Administration has said that tax cut could become permanent, placing the healthcare of 2 million Pennsylvanians in jeopardy.

“We also need to limit the costs of prescription drugs like insulin. Seven states, including neighboring West Virginia, have passed laws capping the cost that patients pay for insulin. We can do the same at the federal level and make life-saving medication affordable for the people who need it regardless of what state they live in.”

Terwilliger: “I feel strongly that we need to codify the consumer protections in the ACA into individual laws because the ACA is in danger of being ruled entirely unconstitutional. In addition, we need a plan to continue coverage for people during a transition phase so that millions aren’t suddenly left without coverage.

“In terms of affordability there are a few things that Congress could do. First we could open the prescription drug market to international competition, the idea being that a more open market would drive prices down. We could allow insurance plans to cross state lines, allowing for greater competition in the market.

“We need to continue to increase transparency in pricing so that consumers know that office visits, prescriptions, xrays or physical therapy, for example, cost less at the provider next door so that we can make informed choices.”


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