AP NEWS

Health Care Divides 2nd Congressional District Candidates in Final Debate

October 12, 2018

CD 2 candidates from left, Roger Barris, Joe Neguse, Nick Thomas and Peter Yu

For the most part, the candidates for the 2nd Congressional District followed party lines during their final debate before the Nov. 6 election.

Hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Lafayette library Thursday night, Joe Neguse , the Democratic candidate, spoke on a need for more government regulation in energy and gun policies, and larger safety nets for the poor and sick, despite the potential for higher taxes.

Peter Yu , the Republican candidate, touted the current strength of the economy and said the 2nd Congressional District’s next representative needs to continue the conservative policies that engendered this economic boom while working to form bipartisan legislation for immigration and gun reform.

The Libertarian candidate, Roger Barris , continually cited the 10th Amendment — “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Furthermore, in that same line of thinking, Barris said the economy should be deregulated and driven by true free-market principals — increase the number of H-1B visas and guest worker visas to allow immigrants to work in the United States legally and replace regulations in the oil and gas industry with a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

As he said, “the government is not the solution, it’s often the problem.”

Rather than coming out as anti-government, independent candidate Nick Thomas railed against politics. He blamed the issues facing America on a failure of the two-party system run by special interests. The best solution, in his mind, was to turn the system on its head and conceive totally new ideas for immigration, gun control, health care and energy.

The philosophical differences between all four candidates were most clearly articulated during their debate on health care.

“No family should go bankrupt if someone gets sick,” Neguse said. “I believe, at the end of the day, that we can certainly afford to provide health care to each and every citizen in our country, the question is whether or not we care enough to do so, and I believe we should fight for Medicare for all.”

Yu’s rebuttal was simple.

“How are we going to pay for this?” he asked. “I want the exact same thing they want. I want to be able to give insurance to every single person regardless if they’re young, old, pre-existing conditions, regardless of if you’re disabled, but I think there’s a better way to do it.”

His solution was more complicated — in order to reduce insurance premiums Congress must move to end universal health care and look to reduce federally enacted mandates on the health care industry, thereby increasing competition and creating new ways to pay, like pre-taxed health savings accounts and medical co-ops .

While the end goal of Barris’ health care fix was somewhat similar to that of Yu’s, the means to that end were quite different.

“We need a radical reformation of our health care system,” he said. “The biggest myth in American politics is that we have a free market in health care. The reality is that we have created the worst of all possible worlds: a for-profit system where we have no consumer choice, no consumer discipline, and no competition.”

Radical reforms he suggested include scrapping universal health care as well as any other regulations restricting the market; allowing prescription drugs from foreign countries; make it easier to produce generic drugs and allow people to purchase insurance across state lines. With additional competition, prices will ideally allow everyone to afford insurance, he said.

Thomas said the current system was built by special interests and the two-party system. In order to fix it, we have to try something entirely new.

“The Democrats failed us, the Republicans failed us,” he said. “I’ve said all along we need to move to a two-tier system.”

In a two-tier system, America would continue with the model of universal health care, but in the meantime, immediately implement measures to increase competition, he said.

Despite the spirited debate, in the end, all of the candidates said they respected each other’s right to disagree and noted that no matter who won, they would all work across the aisle to end partisan politics.

John Spina: 303-473-1389, jspina@times-call.com or twitter.com/jsspina24

AP RADIO
Update hourly