13th District Candidates Differ on Health Care
By Craig Cohen
The three men vying for Illinois’ 13th Congressional have very different views about the future of health care in America. Democrat David Gill, Republican Rodney Davis, and Independent John Hartman all think very differently about the Affordable Care Act.
Gill said he would not have voted for it, had he been in Congress in 2010, because of its private health insurance mandate.
“The most important part of the bill, in my opinion, is that it maintains the need to purchase private health insurance,” Gill said. “It brings 32 million more customers into the clutches of the private health insurance industry.”
But Gill, who has touted his experience as a family practice physician and emergency room doctor throughout the campaign, stresses he does not think the health insurance industry is evil.
“They simply have a different mission than the mission should be of health care providers and of governmental leaders,” Gill said. “My mission as a health care provider is to make sure that people are healthy.”
Dr. Gill does believe some elements of the Affordable Care Act do serve that purpose, including provisions that keep insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, keep young adults under 26 insured through their parents’ coverage, and address the so-called Medicare “donut hole.”
He would have liked something else though.
“I would have put a public option in there,” Gill said. “If nothing else as a demonstration project. I believe that the preservation and protection and ultimately the expansion of Medicare will pave the way toward us being healthier, and also being substantially wealthier in this country.”
Rodney Davis agrees with Gill about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act covering pre-existing conditions, and younger adults staying on their parents’ plan. He also likes that it lifts lifetime caps.
Nevertheless, Davis has consistently stated that, if elected, he would work in Congress to repeal and replace the legislation with what he calls a “market-based solution.”
It is a conclusion he attributes to his wife’s successful battle with colon cancer.
“My wife was misdiagnosed for months before she was correctly diagnosed, after being told it was in her head that she had colon cancer,” Davis recalled. “And the only reason why we were able to get that diagnosis was because we had the ability to move beyond our primary care physician and go to a specialist, who thought he would find Crohn’s disease and unfortunately found a colon cancer tumor.”
Shannon Davis recently celebrated 13 years since her last chemotherapy treatment.
Rodney Davis said that experience has solidified his view that patients need to be able to choose where and when to seek medical treatment.
“My health care plan talks about putting forth an opportunity to where we can do some simple changes in the country by allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, by allowing larger pools to be able to be put together to reduce rates,” Davis said. “That’s going to be the solution that’s still going to make paramount that doctor-patient relationship.”
John Hartman, meanwhile, is generally satisfied with the legislation passed in 2010, and wants to see it preserved.
“The Affordable Care Act is projected to cover 32 million more Americans, and we certainly should not repeal that because if we do, we’ll go back to arguing with each other, we won’t have anything,” Hartman argued. “And those 32 million Americans won’t have insurance. So, it’s ethically responsible for us to maintain that.”
Yet, Hartman notes controlling health care costs has to be a priority. He points to the Mayo Clinic as an example of how quality care can also be economical.
“What they do is they pay their doctors on a salary,” Hartman said. “They don’t pay them on a, the more tests, the procedures you perform, the more money you make. You get to make the same amount of money. Then, that takes that out of the equation – you just concentrate on what’s best for the patient.”
All three candidates believe there’s more than can be done to ensure the nation’s health and well-being. ‘
David Gill believes the best path to a healthier country lies in his concept of “Medicare for everyone.”
According to Gill, “we’ve got a lot of American ingenuity and creativity in this country, and we can design a Medicare that allows for appropriate counseling, and whether it be dietary counseling or sitting down with a physician to talk for 30 minutes about options to stop smoking – those types of things. To push forward before these things mount up and become a crisis ultimately.”
Rodney Davis believes we should expand the use of community health care centers nationwide, as a more cost-effective health care safety net.
“We can do it, and provide those who are uninsured, underinsured and underserved the ability to get that primary care access that they need, to be able to have a doctor that walks them through the wellness process and through any health issues that they may or may not have,” Davis said.
John Hartman, meanwhile, emphasizes the importance of education as means to a healthier nation.
“We’ve got great advances in technology and science…but we have problems in disseminating that knowledge,” Hartman said. “And what we need to do, probably starting with our public schools, have a re-invigorated understanding of how our behavior affects our health, and make that part of our approach to health throughout our lifetimes, including our doctors, and our doctors doing a better job of listening to us as patients, and taking in consideration our values and where we’re coming from and what we want in health care.”
David Gill, Rodney Davis, and John Hartman offer three sets of ideas, three very different philosophies. They would also likely debate and ultimately vote in different ways in Congress, on behalf of Illinois’ 13th district.