Senate Candidates focus on Affordable Care Act as Primary Electi - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Senate Candidates focus on Affordable Care Act as Primary Elections Draw Near

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 For years, healthcare has been a hot political issue: From health care availability...to health care cost and more recently, the Affordable Care Act...Obamacare.
 In our recent "Survey South Dakota", 30% of those surveyed said health care was the issue they would be voting on in the U-S Senate race.
 The candidates running for U-S Senate in South Dakota have varying views and degrees of concern when it comes to you....and your health.
 It is no surprise that Republicans don't like the Affordable Care Act..or Obamacare.
 What may surprise you is that the only Democrat in South Dakota's U-S Senate race....isn't real fond of it either. "What we have is an Affordable Care Act that isn't affordable enough for a lot of people." Democrat Rick Weiland believes the Affordable Care Act still puts a lot of power in the hands of insurance companies while not doing a lot to bring down costs.
 His solution: open up the federal Medicare program for open enrollment...and in theory, put the insurance companies in more competition with one another. "We have140,000 people in South Dakota that are on Medicare. They wouldn't give it up for private insurance for a million dollars."
 Two independents are in this race. Gordon Howie and Larry Pressler: 
 Pressler has tepid support for the ACA. "I strongly support keeping the Affordable Care Act at this point." But while he strongly supports keeping it....for now...Pressler says it needs to be changed and improved...in a thoughtful way. "I think its very irresponsible to say repeal Obamacare without saying what we would substitute for it."
 "The Affordable Care Act is basically the government controlling your health care decisions. Period." Independent candidate Gordon Howie says the Affordable Care Act is flawed from the get go because it puts the power over your health care in Washington's hands.
 In 2010 while serving in the South Dakota Legislature, Howie tried to stop the ACA from taking hold here. "The bill I introduced, the Healthcare Freedom Act, would have nullified Obamacare in South Dakota."
 Howie says the administration at the time stopped his efforts. 
 At the time, the governor was Republican Mike Rounds...who is also running for Senate now. "We have to stop making promises to people that we're going to pay for their health care if we don't have the money to do it. And right now that is what the Affordable Care Act is built on." Rounds tells us...from a dollar and cents standpoint...the Affordable Care Act is not lowering healthcare costs...he says what it is doing is increasing the cost to small business to provide insurance...which Rounds says hurt the economic bottom line. "That.....and literally billions of dollars of additional taxes on employers who literally will not employ people in the future."
 "We have to repeal it. Bottom line, we have to repeal it. We have to get back to a health care system thats affordable." Republican Stace Nelson is also concerned about the cost of the Affordable Care Act and says having it in place provides a "big brother" overseeing your health. Nelson wants Obamacare replaced and he wants you to decide what takes its place. "We need to get the government out of health care and back in the hands of the voters. The people that really matter here and let them decide."
 But that is the real question: of those who say the Affordable Care Act should be replaced...no one is offering up what the replacement plan should be.
 The closest we came to is Republican Jason Ravnsborg. "I don't think we can be the party of no. We have to move forward with our own plan." Ravnsborg points to another Republican senator...Tom Coburn of Oklahoma...who is also a doctor.
 Coburn suggests....and Ravnsborg agrees...with keeping the existing ACA standards that don't stop someone with pre-existing conditions from qualifying for health care...and also keeping in place the idea that people up to age 26 can be covered by their parents insurance. Past that....everything else would change. "But it doesn't have all the government overreach and regulations, and it also has tort reform and other cost saving measures."
 Staying with the issue of the Affordable Care Act, Republican senate candidate Larry Rhoden released a statement tonight which says in part "Rather than a government take-over, we need to support measures like health savings accounts, allowing competition among insurance companies across state lines and tort reform."
 We want to let you know that Republican Annette Bosworth did not respond to our requests for comment. 
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