The Edmond Sun

October 31, 2012

5th District candidates debate merits of health care act

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a marvel of political engineering and a promise kept by President Barack Obama to voters who elected him to office in 2008, said Tom Guild of Edmond, a Democrat running for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.

The future of health care in keeping with the ACA was discussed last week at a forum sponsored by the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ballots will be cast Tuesday to decide who will represent the 5th District. Republican Congressman James Lankford is asking voters to re-elect him to office. Lankford is opposed by Guild and Independent candidates Pat Martin of Jones and Robert T. Murphy of Norman.

“People with pre-existing conditions have been promised and promised and denied health care over and over again,” Guild said. Women had been paying more for than men for the same health care policies, Guild said.

“People were having their insurance rescinded in the middle of a catastrophic illness. People were bumping up on their lifetime limits and the insurance companies said that’s enough,” Guild said.

The Affordable Care Act will need to be tweaked as it is implemented through 2014, Guild said.

Murphy said his campaign promotes a free health care market because medical care is too important to be controlled by bureaucrats.

“Late 19th century medical doctors got laws passed that gave them a monopoly on medical schools and medical licensing,” Murphy said.

He said that medical doctors took over the medical industry and made it into a cartel. Women, Jews and black people were excluded from medical schools, he said.

“It’s been loosened up a little bit as far as who gets into the profession,” Murphy said. “But the doctors are still regulating how many doctors can graduate every year. We still regulate physician assistants.”

Congress and the presidency were controlled by Democrats in 2009 when the Affordable Care Act was passed, Martin said. Most of the senators and representatives who voted for the 2,700-page health care bill had not read all of the law, Martin said. Repeated attempts to kill the health care law have been made by lawmakers who have not read the bill, Martin said.

“In my opinion what we’re looking at there is an example of the two-party conflict that has been waging as long as any of us can remember,” Martin said. “The two sides of the aisle are less interested in compromise and more interested in their party agenda than the other side.”

He said there are bound to be parts of the health care act that can be removed, salvaged or reworked. But there is a purpose for regulating health care, Martin said.

“In the late 19th century, we had a number of people who were trying to sell us arsenic in little green bottles,” Martin said.

Lankford said the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is a tax. The taxation of health care must be resolved, Lankford said.

“Starting next year if you have a flexible saving account that you usually have within your business — that gets cut in half next year to get more tax revenue,” Lankford said.

Tax deductions for high-cost medical bills will be raised, he continued. People having the most difficulty paying for health care will have the highest health care bills, Lankford said.

The 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will be able to cap what doctors and hospitals can charge and what procedures are available for patient care, Lankford said.

“We look forward to the vote of the American people to resolve it,” Lankford said. | 341-2121