Not long after I posted my piece on the 1st CD candidates’ response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on “Obama Care”, I received the following message from the race’s Independent candidate, Larry Ishmael:
“I have not weighed in on the decision yesterday because it is about politics. I believe that every American deserves a good basic healthcare program, but what I really dislike is the way it was shoved through on a strictly partisan vote without knowing exactly what was in the bill. I believe the only good laws passed by Congress are those that have been won on a bi-partisan basis. This issue has become more about politics and less about healthcare. I do like some aspects of the law, but nothing imposed unilaterally is good in the long run.”
It was precisely because Mr. Ishmael had not released any statement, that he was not included in the initial article. However, because I always hope to provide my readers with as much relevant information as possible and believe that every candidate’s voice deserves to be heard, I am happy to share the ensuing exchange that I had with the Independent candidate.
Examiner: You say that the bill was shoved through on a strictly partisan vote. While this is a factual statement, are you suggesting that President Obama and Congressional Democrats did not spend an excruciating amount of time begging Republicans to come to the table with real and constructive amendments? Do you not agree that the premise for the bill was originally the Republican alternative to “Hillary Care” from the 90s? In my opinion, the fact that the Republicans chose to say “No” simply because it was being proposed by President Obama shouldn’t have forced the Democrats to simply stop taking any action.
Larry Ishmael: As far as the Dem’s offer to reach out to the R’s and include them in the Obama Care issue early on, I cannot believe that [Former Speaker of the House] Nancy Pelosi made any truly serious effort to do so behind the scenes. She might have said she did in public, but from my contacts on the R side in Congress, she never really meant it and snubbed them behind closed doors. I am not taking up for the R’s on this as they could have done more to make it happen if they really wanted to. This type of intransigence on both sides is what creates the stalemate we see today (with a possible exception of yesterday when two important bipartisan bills passed since it is an election year).
Examiner: As a Liberal I was happy with neither the process (including Capitol Hill Police being called to arrest citizens who came to committee hearings to plead for consideration of a single payer plan) nor the final outcome that leaves our healthcare in the hands of private insurance companies. However, if that is what we must do to avoid the “evil Socialism” (you do realize that our military and our seniors participate in a socialist healthcare system right?) I guess I can live with it.
Larry Ishmael: I understand your view on our military and senior healthcare programs being single payer systems, as is the Native American healthcare system. I have a sister on Medicare/Medicaid who has to use our Indian tribe’s healthcare to get her prescriptions filled as she is in the “donut hole”, and I have a nephew with AIDS who cannot afford his meds without government assistance through the tribe. I feel that everyone should have this type of option available to them so long as they are taxpaying legal residents. As a former advisory board member of Overlake Hospital, I see that those without healthcare currently are using our emergency wards as their family physician practice, and it is the most expensive form of care, so we need a viable alternative to drive down costs for everyone. In the final analysis, I do believe that we need a very basic public option… one that allows for basic healthcare on a limited basis that covers preventative care, routine doctor visits, generic prescription drugs, and out-patient surgery on critical episodes such as setting broken bones, etc. For more comprehensive coverage we should offer private care options for a fee.
Examiner: You say that you do like some aspects of the law. Can you state specifically what you don’t like? What else would you propose that would allow children with pre-existing conditions to still qualify for healthcare? Obviously the status quo wasn’t doing it.
Larry Ishmael: I like the fact that Obama Care allows young people to stay on their parents’ healthcare for longer, although it is functionally very expensive to do so currently (I know as our youngest is 25 and to move to family coverage is almost double the expense of just a couple). I like that pre-existing conditions do not disqualify you from coverage, and I like the fact that there is no lifetime limit on healthcare coverage.
In the long run we need to closely monitor and police healthcare for fraud so that we don’t allow Obama Care to create opportunities for unscrupulous people to take advantage of the system and increase the costs for everyone. If we are going to turn into more of a welfare state we cannot allow costs to get out of hand. Allowing the government to deal directly with the pharmaceutical companies on purchasing prescription drugs is crucial in cost containment, but it appears that Obama negotiated us out of that to get his bill passed.
Examiner: We know that the house is going to vote on full repeal of the Affordable Care Act on July 14th according to House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor. The repeal vote will certainly pass the house on a purely partisan vote. Obviously the measure will not see the light of day in the senate this year. However, next year, if the Republicans gain the majority in the senate and they maintain the majority in the house – and you are elected from the 1st CD – will you vote for full repeal of the law even if there is no “Replace” legislation to ensure the parts of the current law that are now benefiting millions of households around the country will not be immediately lost to them?
Larry Ishmael: Chad, I cannot commit to voting one way or the other until I see what options are on the table. I don’t make pledges like “no new taxes” or other things until I know the lay of the land.
I want to thank Larry Ishmael for his thoughts on this issue. While it is obvious that we have our differences, I appreciate his thoughtfulness and candor. He concluded our conversation with this, “In the final analysis, I am a compassionate conservative. We need to be able to take care of our most vulnerable while not allowing system abuse.”