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10th district candidates split on future of health law

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on June 30, 2012 at 7:05 am with No Comments »
July 2, 2012 7:37 am

The federal health-reform law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday is shaping up as a point of sharp differentiation between candidates in the 10th Congressional District campaign. Three major-party candidates in the six-person field put out statements after the ruling – with Democrat Denny Heck of Olympia celebrating the law’s constitutionality, Republican Dick Muri of Steilacoom repeating his call to repeal the law, and Republican Stan Flemming of University of Place appearing to back away from his commitment to repeal the law if elected.

The three other candidates didn’t put out statements. But two of them – Sue Gunn, a Progressive Independent from Olympia, and Steve Hannon, an independent from Yelm – favor a single payer system (in other words a system like Medicare). Democrat Jennifer Ferguson of University Place has said she likes the direction the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was headed with an expansion of Medicaid for the poor.

Gov. Chris Gregoire made clear Thursday that Washington state is moving ahead to put the law fully into effect by January 2014.

Here are excerpts from the candidates’ news releases, starting with Heck, who called attention to what the law does for consumers:

Lakewood, Washington – Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling upholds the biggest step forward in health insurance reform in decades. No American will ever again be denied healthcare coverage because of a pre-existing condition. The ruling also ensures Americans under 26 can get access to healthcare through their parents, helps small businesses afford healthcare for their employees, and makes sure that preventative healthcare is covered by health insurance plans for millions more Americans, saving lives and saving money.These patient protections will make the American middle class stronger. The further efforts planned in the United States House of Representatives to repeal these provisions are nothing but distracting, partisan games at a time when Congress should be focused on helping create jobs. This misguided set of priorities is more evidence that we must elect new leaders to the U.S. House.

It is disappointing that our state’s Attorney General joined the Tea Party in this expensive and failed lawsuit and worked to repeal these needed reforms.

America’s healthcare crisis is still very real. Going forward, the goal of Congress must be to work in a bipartisan fashion to lower out of control healthcare costs that continue to harm American pocketbooks. No American should go bankrupt because they get sick.

From Muri’s emailed statement, in which he repeats his support for repeal and appears to misstate what the law actually does:

Lakewood, WA—Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—most specifically the individual mandate on purchasing health insurance—voters and politicians alike are speaking out on the ruling’s repercussions. Pierce County Councilman and Congressional Candidate in the 10th District Dick Muri is one of those politicians.Dick Muri was quoted the afternoon of the ruling as saying that “along with the majority of Americans, it is my belief that the Affordable Care Act forces American families into government run healthcare programs and puts the federal government in between patients and their healthcare providers.”

While Muri has a profound respect for the nation’s judicial system, he does not support its decision. His goal as a U.S. Representative will be to repeal Obamacare. The Courts have made their proclamation, and now it is the duty of the federal government to reverse its effects.

From Flemming’s emailed press release in which he outlines problems with the law:

“Today the Supreme Court has made an historical decision regarding every American’s future. Americans deserve control over their own healthcare. Americans deserve choices, they deserve laws that do not create extreme deficits, loss of jobs and situations where citizens are not able to make their own decisions about their healthcare. “ Stan Flemming was quoted this morning.“The Supreme Court ruling this morning demonstrates the complexities of our government and the work that we have to do for our citizens.” Flemming went on to say “Decisions that are being made in Washington D. C., need to be carefully thought out, not passing a law that has not been read or creating a bill of 2700 pages that creates an unworkable situation for the average American. This law is so complicated that lawyers and judges are having a tough time figuring it out. We need to simplify for people to be able to understand what is expected of them as citizens. ”

As a family physician, Stan Flemming knows firsthand the implications of health insurance – both good and bad. He has worked with Medicare, Medicaid and privately insured patients over his lifetime of practice. “Working with every aspect of medical care and insurance has given me a unique perspective that will enable me to be able to sit at the table to help create healthcare reform that makes sense.”

Several new ObamaCare taxes and burdensome regulations on small businesses are set to go into effect in the next two years. The Supreme Court’s ruling does limit Congress’s powers pertaining to mandates, but does not limit its powers for taxing. Every citizen should be concerned about what Congress is going to pass next and every citizen should be very involved in elections of their new congressional representatives.

I asked Flemming’s campaign on Thursday to clarify if he has changed his position from May. He told me at that time he was “committed” to repealing the healthcare law if the court did not strike it down. This statement leaves that unclear.

UPDATE to original 7:05 a.m. June 30 post: Steve Hannon sent this statement on Sunday:

The Supreme Court decision is an important step forward in ensuring that all Americans can go to the doctor. However, I do not believe that people that can not afford insurance should be forced to buy it. We should go to a single payer system that covers everyone

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