In House race, health care concerns sound the same

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Republican candidates for north Mississippi’s U.S. House seat say they want health care reform, but they’ve yet to show much difference to the voters from what incumbent Rep. Travis Childers says.
Each Republican insists that if he or she had been in Congress, each would have voted “no” with their party colleagues. Childers, a Democrat, voted “no.”
One difference:
Each has signed the GOP pledge to fight for repeal of the new health care law. Childers says he’s not going to fight for repeal but wants improvements made.
State Sen. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo was the first of the Republican hopefuls to put his ideas on paper with a nine-point program.
Former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross dispatched a lengthy statement Wednesday, and former Fox News commentator Angela McGlowan of Oxford followed on Friday after a media inquiry.
Ross and McGlowan express their outrage that Childers won’t work for the repeal.
The June primary will decide who will face Democrat Childers of Booneville in the Nov. 2 general election, along with seven non-mainstream party nominees and independents.
Each Republican has a stance on the new health care law:
- McGlowan – “Health care reform is necessary in the United States, but the solution is not a government-run program.”
- Nunnelee – “Obamacare is a travesty. It will kill jobs, raise taxes, increase spending and allow more government intrusion into our lives.”
- Ross – “With this vast entitlement comes the heavy hand of government. Marx would be proud.”

Common issues
Two months out from the primary, they seem to agree with changes Childers propounded late last year before health care reform picked up steam toward passage – health care insurance people can take from job to job, insurance not restricted by state lines, group plans or tax incentives for small businesses with the same tax advantages as corporations, and no special coverage for elected officials.
They also want comprehensive medical malpractice or “tort” reform.
Some common issues already are in the new law – exchanges where people can shop for better rates, bans on coverage restrictions because of pre-existing conditions, help for small businesses.
Childers and the GOP candidates remain critical of the costs associated with the new law. In explaining his “no” vote, Childers said cost was one of his chief reasons for opposing it. They all oppose public funding for abortion, which President Obama reaffirmed with an executive order last week.
McGlowan appears to be the only one calling on state Attorney General Jim Hood to join colleagues in a dozen or so other states filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the reform’s mandate on individual insurance coverage.
Strategically, Nunnelee’s camp says he’s going to continue to press “his common- sense approach” because it will make health care “more accessible and cost effective without increasing the size of government.”

Pelosi pops
The three also are staying on message to remind disaffected voters that Childers belongs to the party of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a political bogey-woman this year.
“The Republicans are going to dance around his no vote,” speculated Joe Atkins, a University of Mississippi journalism professor who’s been a professional political analyst for many years.
“They’re going to say he’s still a Democrat, still part of the majority party that’s bringing about Armageddon.”
Dr. Marty Wiseman, director of Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute for Government, says that as time passes and the public finds favor with aspects of the new law, they’re not going to feel so keenly for someone who wants to repeal it.
But Joseph Antos, a health care scholar at the conservative-learning American Enterprise Institute, says November’s general election won’t be about health care.
“I think it’s economy and jobs,” he said.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com Read her blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com or her posts on Twitter and Facebook.