Speaking at a lunch meeting of health insurance agents and brokers Wednesday, the two candidates for U.S. House of Representatives from the 9th District staked out distinct positions on President Barack Obamas health care reform law.
Former State Sen. Robert Pittenger, the Republican candidate, would repeal it.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts would keep it and improve it.
A Democrat running in the historically Republican district, Roberts said the Affordable Care Act doesnt do enough to cut health care costs, increase competition, reduce unnecessary procedures and improve patient outcomes.
But she objected to repealing the law that prevents insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing medical conditions and allows parents to keep children on their plans until theyre 26. By 2014, it will require most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
As a county commissioner, Ive seen the cost of not having everyone insured, Roberts said. When the uninsured seek routine care at emergency rooms, its more expensive, and the public ends up paying for that.
Pittenger, who defeated Jim Pendergraph in a July Republican primary runoff, said the name Affordable Care Act is ironic, because its not affordable.
Quoting an analysis by the House Ways and Means Committee Republican staff, Pittenger said the law includes 20 new, different tax hikes that will cost taxpayers $680 billion over the next decade, an onerous impact on the business community .
He also criticized Obamacare, the name used by critics, for creating a panel of 15 non-medical people who will have the power to ration care.
PolitiFact, a fact-checking service of the Tampa Bay Times, has checked other claims that the 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will lead to rationing. The board, which will recommend ways to prevent Medicares spending growth from exceeding certain targets, is specifically forbidden from submitting any recommendation to ration health care, PolitiFact said.
But it can decrease government payments to health care providers for services and recommend ways to cut wasteful spending.
Pittenger said cutting reimbursement to providers will discourage people from becoming primary care physicians at a time when the country needs more. He called for less regulation overall. To me, our free markets (are) what have made America great.
Were caught up with a government that doesnt know where its going, Pittenger concluded. We cant continue with the status quo.
Roberts summed up her position this way: Congress right now is spending more time fighting and less time working (As a county commissioner) I have worked for common-sense solutions to complex problems.