Doug Jones on Obamacare: ‘Repeal and replace is a political slogan’
Doug Jones stood with a doctor to his right and a giant hospital behind him.
The Democratic nominee in Alabama’s Senate election wanted the optics to match his message that health care is the top concern he’s heard from voters, which he said makes it a top concern about him.
Jones scheduled a series of media events last week in Huntsville to give voice to his positions on addressing issues with the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare – and, more specifically, the Childhood Health Insurance Program, which will run out of money in March 2018 if Congress doesn’t take action.
As he emphasized his concern over the national health care debate, Jones made clear that eliminating Obamacare is not the solution. And voters, he said, shouldn’t be led into thinking that it is.
"Repeal and replace is a political slogan," Jones said. "It’s not something that’s workable."
After Republican politicians promised voters they would replace Obamacare once President Obama left office, they have failed so far to do so.
Jones said the Affordable Care Act needs to be improved and that’s where the energy should be spent – not on doing away with it altogether.
"The Affordable Care Act was never supposed to be the end of the discussion about health care in this country," he said. "It is always going to be a work in progress."
Jones said he met last week with doctors and administrators at Huntsville Hospital to get an on-the-ground perspective on health care. Those meetings came after similar meetings in Birmingham.
"We have a problem in our health care system," Jones said. "It’s really broken; it’s not working the way it should be for everyone. We have rural health care problems, we have Medicare and Medicaid health care problems. So I think it’s incumbent upon anybody who aspires to be a United States Senator to come up and talk and meet with the doctors and the administrators and hear first-hand what they are seeing."
That was also a gentle swipe at Republican opponent Roy Moore, whom Jones will face in the Dec. 12 election.
Moore has said repeatedly he favors repealing and replacing Obamacare and states that position on his campaign website. His campaign chairman, Bill Armistead, said in a press release in September that Moore "wants to make sure that the federal government is getting out of the health care business entirely."
Jones has interpreted that comment to mean that Moore favors ending Medicaid and Medicare as well as child health insurance programs (CHIP). Jones called on Alabama’s congressional delegation to immediately reauthorize funding for All Kids, the state’s CHIP.
"I question whether Roy Moore would support that," Jones told AL.com last week. "He has consistently and his spokespeople have consistently said they want the government out of health care altogether. He apparently refuses to answer the question about the CHIP program. One can only assume he would not support it."
In a statement to AL.com, Armistead, Moore’s campaign chair, said that Moore would review the CHIP funding issue if elected.
"There is a basic difference here between the two candidates: Doug Jones is a liberal, and therefore he believes government bureaucrats should run health care and other aspects of our lives, while Judge Moore thinks we should have a patient-centered system and let individuals make decisions about how they live their lives," Armistead said in the statement. "Doug supports Obamacare, which raised insurance premiums through the roof for many Americans, while Judge Moore wants to put medical decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients, and make healthcare more affordable."
"In regards to Alabama’s CHIP program, it has funds to operate through March. If elected senator on December 12, Judge Moore looks forward to immediately reviewing fiscally-responsible options for CHIP’s future funding."
PolitiFact also did a fact-check of Jones’ comments last month that Moore’s desire to get "the federal government out of the health care business entirely" translated into ending Medicaid and Medicare.
The analysis found that such a translation was not accurate and that "Jones put words in Moore’s mouth."
The back-and-forth rhetoric of the campaign aside, Jones said a new strategy is needed to cure the ills of the Affordable Care Act.
"The first approach is you have to start talking things out," Jones said. "Health care has been a political football the last few years, especially in the last year. I think in order for things to go forward, you have to bring stakeholders to the table and you have to listen to them and understand and have dialogues across political aisles. Health care is too important. It’s very complicated and that’s why you need to have the stakeholders, the people on the ground.
"Right now, everything is happening behind closed doors in Washington D.C., which is the last place that it needs to be decided. We need to be out in the open and have dialogues about the health care system so we can fix what needs to be fixed, keep what’s working for everybody and try to give everybody affordable health care and access to health care."
Preventative health care is an area that needs to be improved, Jones said, along with dwindling medical services in rural areas
"He came here to learn from us and I think we learned from him that he’s very well-informed on healthcare issues," Huntsville cardiologist Dr. David Drenning said in accompanying Jones to one of the press events. "He’s very intelligent, reasonable guy who has done his homework. We actually learned from him on a few issues today."
via Real-Time News from AL.com http://bit.ly/2zzWl2c
November 5, 2017 at 04:19AM