Running on, or from, Healthcare

Email a Friend

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. On today's Brian Lehrer Show, 30 Issues in 30 Days looked at how the giant healthcare reform is playing out in one New Jersey congressional race.

Rush Holt, U.S. Congressman (D-NJ 12th), and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel supported President Obama's healthcare overhaul, and he's campaigning on it as a major accomplishment. Republican Scott Sipprelle is running against him and argues that "Obamacare" is a disaster that needs to be scraped.

They faced off on The Brian Lehrer Show today.

Holt says the law will remake how Americans experience healthcare — in a good way.

I'm not saying it is a perfect bill, but it is a landmark bill. It will do for most of America what Medicare did for those over 65. It changes the entire view of healthcare in America. It used to be that if you were over 65, you, on average, got inferior healthcare. After 1965, the elderly could count on good healthcare.

The Democratic incumbent argued that the individual components of the law are very popular, even if the overall package is not.

It improved Medicare. It increases the solvency of Medicare, while at the same time shifting the emphasis more towards health outcomes rather than collections of procedures. It looks at the patient and provides more primary care and more preventive care. That's all true in Medicare.  With regard to the private insurance companies, it provides consumer protections and some cost containment. It puts in place some pilot programs for tort reform in the states. My point is it provides help for small businesses in providing insurance for people.

He dismissed the Republican arguement that the law should be scraped and a new system instituted. And he argued that contrary to popular belief, the healthcare law is not a major government program.

This is still built on private insurance. It is not the government coming between you and your doctor... It is not a big governemnt program. Medicare for all would have been a big government program. That might have worked, but that's not what this is.

Republican Scott Sipprelle says the healthcare bill should be repealed.

I think the law is deeply flawed and we do need to start over. I do not believe it is going to achieve any of the end points in terms of lowered costs or expanded quality of care or innovation or controlling waste fraud and abuse in the Medicare system. I frankly believe it comes down to two different visions for how America should work. My plan is all about consumer choice, competition and free markets and I believe my opponent's position is really grounded in this concept that a big government bureaucracy that intervenes in every aspect of our economic lives can intelligently design a program to control nearly 20 percent of our economy through the actions of faceless bureaucrats sitting in buildings in Washington D.C.

The Republican challenger says consumers end up using too much healthcare because most expenses are covered by someone other than the patient. He argues that everyone should own their own healthcare and get tax exemptions based on spending.

Give it to the consumer themselves so that they can get a personal tax exemption so that they then become a wise and prudent shopper of healthcare. And they are also rewarded for making smart healthcare decisions to control their own consumption, as it were.

Sipprelle says insurance premiums are rising as a result of new mandates required under the new law.

My opponent seems to think that the governemnt has sort of this mysterious stash of money that they can create free healthcare without any cost. Let's just stop pandering and let's be honest. If we're going to add these additional coverages, those costs will be reflected in additional costs for everybody.

Listen to the entire conversation on The Brian Lehrer Show.