U.S. House candidate Peters aims to cut federal debt, health care costs

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CEDAR RAPIDS — If elected to Congress, U.S. House 2nd District challenger Chris Peters probably wouldn’t join his Republican colleagues in attempting to repeal Obamacare.

“There are parts of it I do like,” the Coralville surgeon said Thursday. Congressional Republicans “have wasted way too much time, money, effort, angst, political capital (and) my patience with trying to repeal or defund the ACA.”

But reforming health care is another matter. He said that should be part of a broader effort to reduce federal debt, which Peters calls a “horrible burden” on future generations and a “horrible drag on the economy now.”

“As a father, I’m always concerned about what kind of an inheritance we’re going to pass onto our children,” Peters told The Gazette Editorial Board. “As an adult American, I’m concerned about what we’re going to leave behind to future generations.”

Peters, 55, is challenging five-term Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa City in the 24-county southeast Iowa district that stretches from the Quad Cities to Iowa City to Osceola.

Peters said market-based reforms would shrink the cost per item of health care and the overall cost because more patient-consumer involvement in decision-making probably would reduce the overuse of high-cost procedures.

The other approach would be a government-sponsored, universal-payer model. Peters said most people don’t realize that about half of health care costs now are paid by the government with the private sector covering the rest.

That mix highlights the “inefficiencies of both systems and the benefits of neither,” Peters said.

However, he added, if voters really wants to consider a universal-payer model Congress should have that debate because “we clearly cannot continue doing what we’re doing.”

He’s not advocating privatization of government-sponsored health care such as Medicare and Veterans Affairs. Instead, Peters he said most Americans would be well-served with high-deductible insurance plans paired with health savings accounts.

“For many Americans, unless they have an ongoing, active condition or high-priced chronic illness, that would be a much better model,” he said.

For low-income Americans, he said the government could subsidize insurance and, possibly, HSAs on a sliding scale similar to the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Health care costs could be reduced if Medicare could negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, Peters said. He’s also like to see patent reform so pharmaceutical companies couldn’t extend their patents by making “incremental, unsubstantial improvements.”

“Pushing back on the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies is really essential to make this work,” he said.

For more on Peters, visit https://drpetersforiowa.com/.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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