CORALVILLE — Health care was on the minds of candidates and constituents during a candidate forum for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District on Monday.
Democrat and incumbent Rep. Dave Loebsack, Republican Christopher Peters and Libertarian Mark David Strauss answered prepared and audience questions Monday as part of a candidate forum on multiple topics sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County and the Task Force on Aging. Daniel Clark, a no-party candidate for the seat, did not attend the forum.
The candidates fielded numerous questions related to health care, including reform, drug prices, opioids and abortions.
Loebsack said he supported the Affordable Care Act and still does because of the millions of Americans it has brought into the health insurance system, especially those with pre-existing conditions.
“I think there are improvements to be made, but I think we have to keep the Affordable Care Act and build upon it,” Loebsack said, adding that the government should give states more ability to work on their own plans.
To keep costs lower, especially when it comes to Medicare, Loebsack said he believes health care plans and employers should encourage people to live healthy lifestyles because doing that could reduce incidents of chronic, long-term diseases.
Peters, a surgeon, said the government is focusing too much on extending coverage and not enough on the actual cost of health care.
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“Unless we do something about costs, coverage issues are going to continue to be a problem,” Peters said. “The Affordable Care Act is not the cause of all the problems we have in health care — that goes back 30 some years — but it certainly did not do what the name is intended to do, which is to make health care more affordable.”
When it comes to Medicare, Peters said he wished there were more options for seniors, especially cheaper, higher-deductible plans or health savings accounts.
Strauss said he purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and the costs increased over the years but dropped when the law’s individual mandate was no longer required. When it comes to keeping health care affordable, Strauss expressed concern over how hospitals are spending money. He said his architectural systems business has installed expensive features like decorative handrails and water walls at medical facilities.
“We’ve got to stop having hotels for people to go to and start having hospitals,” Strauss said. “We’ve got to have good common-sense things going on to bring down the cost of health care.”
Strauss said his family’s experience with Medicare — which cover his mother and brother — went fairly well. He said the government will have to cut costs in other places because he believes Medicare can’t disappear.
Jim Conger, an Iowa City resident who attended the forum, said his biggest concern this election is what’s best for the state of Iowa. He added that he tries to attend debates, although he wished the candidates had fewer questions so they could have longer to answer.
“I think the foundation of the federal government rests on the building blocks of the states,” Conger said.
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