Health care overhaul topic of debate

Candidates seeking the state’s 3rd District U.S. House seat sparred Wednesday evening over whether Congress should repeal the new federal health care overhaul. “I don’t believe the federal government, through mandates, is going to be able to cut costs and increase quality for Americans,” said Republican Kevin Yoder, who wants Congress to start over on health care reform.

But Democrat Stephene Moore said repealing the law would add to the federal deficit based on savings that were built in and that even though it wasn’t perfect, the overhaul has done some good things.

“This is a law now,” she said. “To me the idea of doing nothing was not an option.”

The candidates — along with Libertarian Jasmin Talbert who also said she would repeal the law — are vying to replace the retiring Rep. Dennis Moore, Stephene Moore’s husband, in the district that includes eastern Lawrence and Douglas County and Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Yoder, a Kansas House member and attorney from Overland Park, argued that to pay for the health care changes the federal government would have to slash funding for Medicare and that an overhaul should include things like sharing health insurance across state lines and allowing small businesses to pool together.

“You’ve got to use the free market,” Yoder said.

But Moore said the law is having an important effect in several areas, including helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance and allowing young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policies until the age of 26.

The three candidates appeared in a spirited one-hour debate at Johnson County Community College where supporters of each side often broke out in cheers and applause at times and shouted out questions at others.

Yoder said Congress should roll back nondefense spending to 2008 levels and institute more budget cuts. He also favors making the Bush tax cuts permanent and said Moore favors current policies that have so many people upset at the current Congress.

But Moore has said the district would benefit from her perspective because she has worked as a nurse. She said she would favor extending the Bush tax cuts for now while making them permanent for 98 percent of taxpayers and “temporary for the top 2 percent” of income earners.

She also said Yoder’s plans to cut federal spending would affect federal education spending.

“That is taking more money from our public education at all levels,” Moore said. “That’s K-12 on through college. There are students who very much depend on their student loans.”

Yoder’s campaign Wednesday announced it raised $730,000 in the last quarter, calling it an unofficial record for the district. Moore’s campaign did not publicly announce fundraising numbers Wednesday.

By George Dipenbrock

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