COLUMBIA - With many Missourians and Americans uninsured, comprehensive health care reform is a hot topic both statewide and nationally. Each of the 10 candidates vying to replace Kenny Hulshof as 9th District U.S. congressman has offered his or her thoughts on what they'd like to see happen.
Rep. Danie Moore, R-Fulton, said there's a lot to like about health care in the United States.
"I believe that our nation has the best health care in the world as far as cutting-edge medicine," Moore said. "The proof is that people are coming from all over the world to be treated here."
She said the problem is how much health care costs and the solution is legislation that would make it easier for businesses to insure employees.
She also said she supports the passage of Gov. Matt Blunt's Insure Missouri plan in some form.
Former MU football player Brock Olivo said the solution to the nation's health care problems lies with small business.
"We fix health care for small business, we fix health care for America," he said.
Olivo said health care should shift from being employer-centric to employee-centric so that health care plans can roll over from one employer to another. He also called for more transparency in the system, so people understand what the true cost of their health care is, rather than the cost of health insurance.
State Rep. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, who is a practicing medical doctor, also said one of the biggest holes he sees is that about half of small businesses provide no health care benefits. He suggested allowing small businesses to get together to buy group insurance and allowing them to purchase it across state lines. Those tactics, he said, would make health insurance cheaper.
Onder also said he would want to equalize tax benefits so that no matter who buys insurance - the individual or the employer - it would be fully tax deductible.
Finally, Onder said, he would want to provide incentives for adopting electronic health records.
Blaine Luetkemeyer, former director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, said he would support a market-based solution that would encourage competition among health care providers. He would support legislation encouraging small businesses to offer health care benefits.
"Just as important, Blaine will fight any efforts by liberals in Congress to create a one-size-fits-all socialized health-care system," his Web site states.
Dan Bishir, former St. Peters building inspector and plans examiner, said it is not the role of the government to provide health care.
"One part of me says that we are the greatest country in the world, so why doesn't everybody have health care?" Bishir said. "But the government can't be everything for everyone."
He said one solution would be to require businesses to provide some sort of health care benefit or to require individuals to have health care insurance, but he said he has not found a perfect solution to the issue.
State Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, said fixing the health care system won't be easy, but she would start by finding and eliminating wasteful spending.
"We're spending plenty of money," she said. "We need to redirect the money we spend into things that will actually produce healthy outcomes."
Steve Gaw, former Public Service Commission chairman and state representative, supports finding ways to give everyone in the U.S. affordable health insurance. He said would pursue insurance reforms that would not necessarily require more government spending.
"Those are the things that are just about access to health insurance premiums that are more affordable and are not governed by an individual's age and risks that come from that," he said.
Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner of Marion County, said he supports allowing people to order their prescription medications from Canada.
"This could possibly lower pharmacy costs," he said.
More important, he said, he would seek to keep funding in place for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. He said he would look at expanding those programs to ensure that people receive regular medical care before they get to the point where they must use free emergency room services.
Former State Sen. Ken Jacob, of Columbia, said it is "critical" that Democrats push for universal health-care coverage and that he intends to support Sen. Barack Obama's plan for national health insurance.
"As a practical, political matter, what's going to happen is if Barack Obama is elected president that the bill that receives the most attention is his plan, and that's the plan I intend to push through," he said.
Tamara Millay, who works at the Washington University School of Medicine, said that pulling all government involvement from the health care system would be an ideal way to decrease costs.
"Every regulation the government imposes creates more costs for the health care providers," she said. She said those costs are then passed on to consumers.
However, she said such a drastic change would be complicated and suggested a transitional provision would be necessary for people covered by Medicare.