Guest Columnist

Blum: Biggest barrier to reform is Washington swamp

2018 ENDORSEMENTS ARTICLES

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While in Congress, I’ve worked hard to learn and find solutions to lower the cost and accessibility of health care. I’ve spent days, weeks, months meeting patients while shadowing doctors, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and caretakers at hospitals and clinics in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Independence, Dubuque, Marshalltown, West Union, Elkader, Anamosa, Grinnell, Guttenberg and Manchester.

The take-away from patients and doctors: The problem with health care is the equivalent of “death by 1,000 cuts,” but in this case it’s “high costs due to a 1,000 reasons.” Each meeting revealed unique inefficiencies or regulations that contribute to soaring costs. The problems are everywhere.

It means Congress should pass stand-alone bills that fix specific issues with overwhelming bipartisan support. Examples include a bill I co-introduced, Maintaining Protections for Patients with Preexisting Conditions Act. This legislation prohibits denial of insurance coverage to vulnerable patients. Another bill I support would lower drug prices, which have skyrocketed due to third-party costs.

Instead, leadership on both sides is fixated on these massive, comprehensive, all-or-nothing “solutions,” which carry with them new inefficiencies and political controversy.

When Obamacare was passed, we were told everyone could “keep your doctor” and “keep your current plan.” We were promised $2,500 in annual savings on insurance. In reality, millions of poor Americans were fined, insurance premiums skyrocketed, and most who gained insurance couldn’t afford to use it.

No doubt government has a role, but it certainly cannot be a total takeover of health care and elimination of private insurance, which is what “single-payer” would be. Children, veterans, senior citizens, low-income individuals, those with special needs, and those with pre-existing conditions should be assisted by government health care programs.

For everyone else, we need to unleash the miracle of the free market and innovation. Overregulation has stifled competition. Ideas often mentioned, but rarely implemented, are to allow sale of all insurance policies across state lines, allow increased contributions to health savings accounts and reimport drugs from overseas.

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Still, the greatest barrier preventing meaningful reforms is the Washington swamp. Politicians are less interested in being part of a solution unless they receive credit and political points. Solutions to the big issues of the day, like health care, need to be bipartisan. I am working to drain the swamp and tackle the gridlock. The last thing we need in D.C. is more aspiring career politicians who vote in lockstep with their party leaders.

• Rod Blum is the Republican candidate in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District.

All candidate guest columns in the 1st Congressional District race:

Rod Blum

Abby Finkenauer

• Troy Hageman, Libertarian, provided no column

Despite multiple attempts by The Gazette, Rod Blum failed to schedule an endorsement meeting. Therefore, no video is available.

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