U.S. House candidates on the issues: Health care spending

The University of Kansas Medical Center (File photo.)

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for the U.S. House seat covering Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #4:

The United States currently spends more per capita on healthcare costs than any developed country — yet our citizens’ health outcomes continue to lag, with rates of obesity and chronic disease much higher than our peers. What does the U.S. need to do to lower its healthcare spending and improve healthcare outcomes for its residents? Should universal health insurance be a priority and, if so, what form should that take?

Sharice Davids (incumbent Democrat)

Too many Kansans are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of health care and prescription drugs — and that was even before we faced this unprecedented pandemic that has caused millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. I’m fighting every day in Congress to ensure Kansans have access to quality, affordable health care that protects those with pre-existing conditions.

I’ve voted for dozens of bills that would lower health care costs including premiums and prescription drug prices and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions. I’ve also introduced my own bill to help end surprise medical billing, because the last thing Kansans need after receiving medical care is a bill they never saw coming. And I’m a strong proponent of Medicaid expansion, which would increase access to affordable health coverage, meaning more people are protected during emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.

Amanda Adkins (Republican)

I have yet to find a voter in Kansas’ Third Congressional District who doesn’t believe that health care costs are out of control. Americans are facing higher premiums, higher deductibles, surprise bills for inpatient care, and astronomical charges at the pharmacy. We know the status quo is unacceptable, but the “solution” proposed by radicals to upend our healthcare sector is far worse.

The Left’s answer, and my opponent’s, is to put government bureaucrats in charge of our health care system in a “Medicare-For-All” single-payer scheme. A government takeover of health care would result in care rationing, diminish our nation’s quality of care, and, as even Joe Biden admits, raise taxes on middle-class families. It would rob families and their physicians of the ability to best direct their own care. Medicare for All would be a disaster for our country, especially for those who need quality, accessible care the most.

We have to implement reforms that truly improve the performance of our health care system, making it not only more affordable but also smarter, more transparent, and accountable for outcomes. The answers lie in the exact opposite of a top-down government takeover: market-based competition for well-informed, empowered health care consumers. We have to give people and their physicians the power and information they need to make the best decisions about care based on quality and cost. On a level, competitive playing field, with transparency and ample protections for those with pre-existing conditions, I trust people, in conjunction with their doctors, to make the right decisions for themselves.

Our nation’s health care providers are the most trusted resources in health, and they are best positioned to coordinate care over an individual’s lifetime. As I discuss in my health care position paper, which you can find online, I believe direct alignment between individuals and providers and better coordination of care will result in improved health outcomes. Provider-sponsored plans offered in partnership with community organizations offer the best opportunity to directly improve the quality of care and health outcomes, and the federal government should encourage the development of such plans at the state and local levels. Alongside efforts to address the social determinants of health—the conditions in daily life that impact health outcomes—these reforms can reduce costs and help Americans live longer, healthier lives.

Steve Hohe (Libertarian)

First of all, the American people have to come to terms: everyone is going to die! Some sooner and some later. The life expectancy (quantity of life) of all Americans has improved by 15 to 20 years in the last century, but the life styles of Americans by freedom of choice have brought that number down. We are a land of plenty and land of free will, personal choices to eat poorly, smoke, drink alcohol, and do drugs or involve in activities with negative outcomes are choices. The reason we lag is clear, we choose.

Universal health care, socialized medicine, Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act) or “Medicare for All” are all the same: federal government takeover of health care. Free-market health care comprises up to one-quarter of the economy. The takeover would automatically increase the National debt to $4 trillion or more.

 

Tomorrow, we will publish the U.S. House candidates’ responses to the final item on our questionnaire: 

Climate change continues to be a major concern for Shawnee Mission Post readers. What steps should the federal government be taking now to address the impact of the changing climate in the coming decades? How would you work to see those steps enacted?