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Columbia Missourian

9th District candidates speak to GRO about health care

July 30, 2008 | 10:39 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Three Democratic candidates for the 9th District Congressional nomination sparred about health care and political experience Wednesday night at a Grass Roots Organizing meeting of about 50 people.

State Rep. Judy Baker of Columbia, former State Sen. Ken Jacob of Columbia and Steve Gaw, former Public Service Commission chairman and state representative, got a short amount of time to answer a few questions about health care between a song about health care to the tune of “Down by the Riverside” and a happy birthday song dedicated to Medicare.

Here's what happened

The candidates were asked to agree to support the following:

  • Guaranteed care and coverage for everybody
  • Standard, comprehensive care with the choice of doctors and public or private plans
  • Affordable coverage based on family income
  • Rules for insurance companies requiring them to put our health before their profits

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Democrat Lyndon Bode, presiding commissioner of Marion County who is also seeking the nomination, did not attend.

First, the candidates were asked about their plans and what reforms they would support, and then they were asked how they would work with Congress and the new president to accomplish a variety of health care-related goals in the first 100 days of office.

Finally, each candidate agreed to pledge their support for a modified version of the Health Care for America Now pledge.

Baker highlighted her experience as a health care administrator and said she is the “best prepared” to deal with health care reform.

She also said she decided to run for the office in December, when incumbent Kenny Hulshof voted to cut funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“I’ve dedicated my whole life to making sure everyone can see a doctor,” she said.

Jacob said although he doesn’t have experience in the health care field, he has passed more bills than “either of my opponents combined,” and that would be the most useful experience in furthering health care reform.

He emphasized that he would support Sen. Barack Obama’s health care plan, as he thinks it has the best chance of passing, and that he would try to prevent the “squabbles among Democrats” that he said can prevent things from getting done.

Gaw also highlighted his political experience, including his stint as speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.

“Health care is not new to me,” he said. “I know what we need to do to get it done.”