Healthcare Focus of Local Congressional Debate

Posted November 2, 2012

Reed, Shinagawa spar over healthcare in congressional candidates debate
By Ray Finger, The Star-Gazette

Education, federal spending, jobs, the farm bill, natural gas development and bipartisanship were some of the issues tackled Thursday (November 1st) by the candidates for the newly drawn 23rd Congressional District.

But health care — and the differences in the candidates’ views on that issue — dominated much of the debate between Republican Tom Reed of Corning, who represents the 29th Congressional District, and Democrat Nate Shinagawa of Ithaca, a Tompkins County legislator. The debate was held in the Clemens Center in Elmira.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare will be bankrupt for people who are currently age 53 and younger when they qualify for Medicare at age 65, Reed said.

“That’s what Obamacare does,” he said. “We need to do better, and that’s why we supported Paul Ryan’s budget. Let’s put solutions out there. Let’s put ideas out there.”

A new and improved Medicare system is needed for those younger people that is done in a way that will preserve it for generations, Reed said.

“We’re not talking about destroying Medicare. We’re not talking about destroying Social Security. That is part of our society,” he said.

“The bottom line is my opponent is supportive of not only Obamacare, but he is supportive of single-payer health care for America, which is government-controlled, government-defined health care for everyone. If we go down that path, health care costs are going to go through the roof,” Reed said.

But according to Shinagawa, Reed supported the Ryan bill that does not keep up with costs and actually makes cuts to Medicare.

“I believe that people who have paid their entire lives into the Medicare system, that shouldn’t be tampered with, that it should be there for our senior citizens,” he said.

“We all know in this room that our payments have gone up 10, 15, sometimes 20 percent a year. That’s a lot higher than inflation. So what will happen is that the out-of-pocket expenses for our senior citizens, who are only living on about $22,000 a year on average, is going to go up $6,000. I don’t think that’s right. I think what we need to do is actually invest in the Medicare system in the long run,” Shinagawa said. “I believe that we need to move the health care system that’s focused right now on how many patients you see, how many surgeries you do and how many tests you order into a system that’s an integrated model where all doctors and nurses are part of the same team and are focused on high-quality care, better care,” Shinagawa said. “That’s actually proven to reduce costs.”

Reed said he would vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act because of the threat it represents.

An electronics firm in Hornell that has 48 employees will not hire any more, even it has the opportunity, because that would push it over the 50-employee threshold set by the act that and would saddle the business with new regulations, he said. Reed said he would replace the act with health insurance reforms.

Shinagawa said he would vote against any repeal of the Affordable Care Act. There are provisions in the act protecting people from insurance companies that would deny coverage. Ways to reduce health care costs are needed in the long run, he said.

Democrats and Republicans have focused on health insurance reform, but reform of the health care system is what is needed by moving to a quality-based system, Shinagawa said.

(For full story with photo, please visit|mostpopular|text|NJLIFE12.)

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