Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gillibrand at Health Care Debate

The contendors for the 20th District Debated Health Care on Monday. When there is a real debate on real issues, unlike Sweeney, Gillibrand is there. Clearly, Gillibrand is the moderate candidate who will represent the working people of the district. Gillibrand is with us on the issues that matter to us and our families.

As reported By MAURY THOMPSON in "Candidates speak locally on health care"

Published on 7/11/2006 THE POST-STAR

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A candidate's forum on health care issues momentarily got off to a rocky start when one of the candidates objected to taking a pledge to stick to particular issues and not attack other candidates. "I affirm. I don't pledge," said Democratic congressional candidate Edwin Pell, who said some people have religious objections to taking a pledge. Candidates in the 20th Congressional District were otherwise fairly cordial at the forum sponsored by Citizen Action, a political activist organization based in Albany. All the candidates with the exception of incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, attended the forum. Sweeney, who was in Saratoga Springs earlier in the day, had commitments in Washington, D.C., on Monday evening, according to campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan. A panel of activists posed questions to candidates on issues like access to health care services, Medicare prescription drug benefits and health savings accounts. From question to question, each candidate reiterated basic positions. Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said individuals should be able to buy into the federal Medicare program, which currently covers the elderly and disabled. Medicare operates with significantly less overhead than private insurance plans, she said. But Gillibrand, a lawyer from Hudson, said she does not support making Medicare the exclusive health plan to cover everyone, saying competition is good for the industry. She also stressed that more emphasis should be placed on preventative care. Democratic candidate Morris Guller said the Medicaid program should be expanded to provide coverage for everyone. Guller, a political activist from Greene County, said the federal government could pay for such an expansion by reducing defense spending and space exploration. "It's fine to go to Mars, and all that is nice and good," but government must establish priorities, he said. Medicaid is preferable to Medicare, because Medicaid is more generous with benefits, he said. Pell, a computer software engineer from Dutchess County, said opening the Medicaid program to others would be "a good start," but health care services should be available to everyone with no co-payments. Without being specific, Pell said the federal government could shift spending from other areas to health care. And Pell repeatedly said corporations should have less control of government. "They should be muzzled. They should be controlled," he said. Libertarian candidate Eric Sundwall said managed care strategies have made health insurance more expensive. Sundwall said he doesn't necessarily think health care is a right. "There is a moral dimension to that, and I kind of think it is not correct," he said. Sundwall said there should be less government control of the health insurance industry.

Article ID No. 229022

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