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Heidi Heitkamp on Health Care

 


No Medicare vouchers; they'd make system insolvent

Stark differences between North Dakota's U.S. Senate candidates when it comes to Medicare and the nation's health care law stood out during their second televised debate. One of the most spirited exchanges followed a question about what Medicare and Social Security proposals were most concerning to the candidates.

Heitkamp said Republicans' so-called "premium support" proposal, which would provide a voucher for beneficiaries under age 55 to shop around for health coverage, would create "real problems in making sure that that system is solvent" if only the elderly who are the sickest remain on traditional Medicare. She said her solutions for keeping Medicare solvent include negotiating prescription drug prices, reducing fraud and waste and promoting wellness.

Berg championed the proposal as giving Americans an option to choose a better policy, but he focused most of his comments on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

Source: Fargo-Moorhead Forum on 2012 N.D. Senate debate , Oct 15, 2012

$716B cut from Medicare is biggest fib of 2012 campaign

Berg challenged Heitkamp's on how long it would take Medicare to go bankrupt under Obamacare and said the law would raid Medicare of $716 billion and "people are going to quit taking Medicare patients."

"It cuts money from hospitals and physicians in North Dakota. It cuts hospice. These are real cuts," Berg said.

Heitkamp called Berg's $716 billion-cut claim "the biggest fib in this whole campaign," noting Berg voted for such a cut under vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Asked how they would address Obamacare, Berg said he would repeal the law, calling it "the one clear distinction in this race." He said his wife, a physician, said it would put the government between her and her patients, and he referred to recent reports that Olive Garden and Red Lobster are putting more workers on part-time status to see if it will limit costs from Obamacare. "This bill creates a cloud of uncertainty, and it's hurting our whole economy," Berg said.

Source: Fargo-Moorhead Forum on 2012 N.D. Senate debate , Oct 15, 2012

Retain the ObamaCare "frontier states" amendment

Heitkamp, whose husband is a family doctor, said she supports keeping ObamaCare's provision for people with preexisting conditions and retaining the "frontier states" amendment, which outgoing U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has said would address inequities in Medicare funding to states and boost payments to North Dakota hospitals and doctors more than $650 million over 10 years. Heitkamp said there is good and bad in the act, and "there is absolutely no reason not to amend the law as it currently exists."

Berg agreed that "we need to deal with that" frontier amendment, explaining afterward that he would reintroduce the provision in the Senate if elected. Heitkamp countered afterward that Conrad and former Sen. Byron Dorgan tried for 20 years to pass the amendment.

Source: Fargo-Moorhead Forum on 2012 N.D. Senate debate , Oct 15, 2012

N.D. needs a state health care exchange, ObamaCAre or not

Heitkamp pointed out that the North Dakota Legislature had worked on creating a state health care exchange, a central piece of the federal health care law known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "It went to the Legislature, and at the last minute it was voted down. There was no rhyme or reason to it," Heitkamp said.

During last November's special session the House voted 64-30 against the exchange. Heitkamp went on to say that North Dakota should have a health care exchange, federal law or not.

Berg said the law needs to be repealed and replaced piecemeal. He said the law's mandate to purchase insurance will hurt businesses and families. "They hit middle America hard," Berg said. He pointed to the announcement earlier in the week that Olive Garden & Red Lobster will be moving away from hiring full-time employees to keep costs down under the law. The law states that businesses with 50 or more employees can be subject to fines if full-time workers aren't covered.

Source: Bismarck Tribune on 2012 N.D. Senate debates , Oct 12, 2012

Changes are needed to ObamaCare, but not repeal

The candidates also discussed healthcare. Berg once again stressed the need to repeal the President`s healthcare law, which he says is an expensive government takeover that cuts Medicare.

Heitkamp said changes are needed with the law when it comes to the mandate and the tax on health insurance. But that it should not be repealed. She says doing so would get rid of the frontier states amendment, which she says would be impossible to get back.

Source: KFYR-TV-5 Bismarck on 2012 N.D. Senate debates , Oct 11, 2012

Extremely supportive of Critical Access Hospitals

Q: Where do you stand regarding Critical Access Hospitals and the 1% federal reimbursement plan that they receive, especially for rural hospitals like some of the ones here in North Dakota?

Heitkamp: "The vast majority of North Dakota's hospitals-- 36 of the 52 certified hospitals--are Critical Access Hospitals. The facilities are the lynchpin to North Dakota's health care system. The president has proposed cutting funding for Critical Access Hospitals and that's something I think he's wrong about.

Berg: "I'm extremely supportive of it. Rural health care is key. The challenge in Washington is that they assume every city has a million people in it. Also, I worry about the president's health care bill, which implements an appointed board of officials to make recommendations about reimbursement levels. With that, we would end up going down a trail of power being taken out of the hands of our elected officials."

Source: The Jamestown Sun joint 2012 N.D. Senate Debate interviews , Apr 17, 2012

2010: enthusiastic support for ObamaCare; less so now

But Heitkamp's remarks offer a stark contrast to her rousing support for health care reform two years ago. The problem for Heitkamp is that the criticism appears to be new. There isn't evidence she raised concerns about the health care law until she was a candidate for Senate.

Her campaign offered little response to the charges, except to say that "(health care reform has) come up when she's been around the state," adding that Heitkamp has been focused on discussing energy issues. On health care, Dunlap, Hinck and Dill each said they believe the 2010 federal health care reform law should be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Pollard, however, said he believes the requirement that individual buy health insurance is unconstitutional. "It's an extremely large assumption of power by the federal government," he said.

Source: NDpolitics.areavoices.com on 2012 N.D. Senate debate , Mar 31, 2012

Federal mandate is serious problem; ObamaCare is not perfect

Heitkamp has been relatively quiet on the issue of health care reform despite her outspoken support of the controversial legislation two years ago. "I've often said that it's not a perfect law," Heitkamp said. "There are some good things in the health care law that make sense, and there are some serious problems that make no sense at all. There are some serious problems with the law like the federal mandate requiring you to buy health insurance and way too much red tape for small businesses."

But Heitkamp's remarks offer a stark contrast to her rousing support for health care reform two years ago. "Her critique of Pres. Obama's most controversial act reveals the delicate balancing act she'll attempt to perform--embracing the more popular pieces of reform, while carving out distance from its centerpiece," a Politico analyst writes. "The problem for Heitkamp is that the criticism appears to be new. There isn't evidence she raised concerns about the health care law until she was a candidate."

Source: Kirsten Daum on 2012 N.D. Senate debate , Mar 30, 2012

Spearheaded lawsuit against big tobacco

While serving as the Attorney General of North Dakota, Heitkamp's biggest achievement was working on the lawsuit filed against big tobacco. She spearheaded the campaign to hold big tobacco companies responsible for their actions and succeeded in obtaining large amounts of money for each state to use in tobacco cessation programs. The lawsuit also placed restrictions on allowable advertising for tobacco companies."
Source: 2012 Senate campaign Facebook webpage , Jan 18, 2012

Opposes repealing ObamaCare.

Heitkamp opposes the CC Voters Guide question on ObamaCare

Christian Coalition publishes a number of special voter educational materials including the Christian Coalition Voter Guides, which provide voters with critical information about where candidates stand on important faith and family issues. The Christian Coalition Voters Guide summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Repealing "Obamacare" that forces citizens to buy insurance or pay a tax"

Source: Christian Coalition Voter Guide 12-CC-q5a on Oct 31, 2012

Other candidates on Health Care: Heidi Heitkamp on other issues:
ND Gubernatorial:
Jack Dalrymple
ND Senatorial:
John Hoeven

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Page last updated: Dec 22, 2013