Childers, Nunnelee part ways on health care reform law

Neither U.S. Rep. Travis Childers nor challenger Alan Nunnelee is happy with the nation’s new health care law.
But Democrat Childers, who voted against it, says some parts are worth saving. Republican Nunnelee wants to throw it all out and start over.
The men meet on the Nov. 2 general election ballot with seven other independent and third-party candidates.
“We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Childers of Booneville, referring to the Affordable Care Act signed into law earlier this year.
He wants to keep provisions that:
- Close the Medicare “donut hole,” which by 2020 effectively will eliminate for senior citizens the gap for prescription costs between basic Medicare coverage and catastrophic coverage.
- Allow children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26.
n Prevent health insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
He’s also co-sponsored and helped pass legislation to repeal costly compliance rules for small businesses.
Nunnelee, of Tupelo, said that “while I agree we do need to adjust our health care system, government-run health care is not the answer.”
His approach is to enact reforms to reduce costs and ensure that personal health care decisions are made by patients, their families and their doctors.
He agrees with Childers on protection for people with pre-existing conditions.
But he blames the new health care law for fanning the flames of fear in the business community and creating economic instability.
Besides an outright repeal of the new law, Nunnelee proposes to:
- Enact comprehensive tort reform, which he says will “stop junk lawsuits and lower costs” by cutting down on escalating defensive medicine practices and insurance increases.
- Create a marketplace for insurance, which can be bought across state lines.
- Empower small businesses, the self-employed and others with the same buying power as big business and government.
They both agree tax money should never pay for abortions.
Childers is critical of Nunnelee, who as state Senate chairman of the Appropriation Committee, supported budget cuts to reduce the state’s Medicaid rolls for health insurance to the poor.
He also insists Nunnelee’s decisions raised taxes on hospitals, which were expected to pass them along to their patients.
Nunnelee said Medicaid reductions came from new rules to determine who was eligible for services. They were necessary because the program, he said, “was growing at a rate Mississippi taxpayers could not sustain.”
As for the hospital tax, he termed the issue “trumped-up politics,” saying federal requirements forced a new way to address how Mississippi hospitals divided up Medicaid reimbursements. A battle over the budget issue, in part, forced a special legislative session.
Nunnelee says he wants incentives for personal health care savings accounts, which he says the new health care law greatly diminishes.
He says he also wants medical bills to be easier to understand.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal