Smart Benefits: Where RI Candidates Stand on Healthcare Reform

Monday, November 05, 2012


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When Rhode Islanders head to the polls on Tuesday, the candidates’ positions on jobs and the economy will influence many voters – but so will their take on healthcare reform. So where do the candidates stand on the issue? 

All agree that some version of healthcare reform is needed, but they differ on how to achieve it. Following is a summary of their positions in the candidates’ own words (from their websites, ads, debates and voting records). 

The Republican Challengers

Barry Hinckley, Republican, Candidate for US Senate. Hinckley pledges to repeal most of Obamacare and maintains the law is unconstitutional.  He recommends replacing it with interstate insurance options and competition, small business healthcare pooling and real tort reform.

Brendan Doherty , Republican US Congressional Candidate for District 1.  Doherty agrees the healthcare system needs reform and sides with Hinckley on small business pooling and tort reform, particularly to provide safe harbors for doctors that follow evidence-based standards of care. Doherty would retain some of the provisions of the current healthcare plan that have wide support, such as the use of electronic medical records, portability of health insurance coverage for workers, family plan coverage for college students and young adults, and protections for workers with pre-existing conditions. But he doesn’t support the requirement that companies with 50 or more employees must provide insurance or pay a penalty, saying it will make local business owners reluctant to hire new workers. And he believes federal subsidies for individuals without employer provided coverage could encourage small companies that now provide coverage to drop it and force their employees to buy the federally subsidized insurance.

Michael Riley, US Congressional Candidate for District 2.  Riley is in step with Hinckley and Doherty on repealing most of Obamacare. He is particularly worried the Democrats are missing a critical point with healthcare reform: if providers and insurers face lower reimbursements for Medicare patients because of Medicare cuts contained in the current healthcare reform legislation, providers might start refusing to participate in Medicare. And that would limit elderly access to Medicare. Riley is concerned about the provision in the law that basic birth control services for women be required as part of any employer-provided health insurance plan. “I think this provision tramples our religious freedom,” said Riley, who recently earned the Right To Life endorsement previously given to Democratic incumbent Jim Langevin.

The Democrat Incumbents

US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Whitehouse supports comprehensive healthcare reform and remains an advocate for the Patient Protection and Affordability Act (PPACA) legislation. He voted to not repeal PPACA, voted to establish the state Health Benefit Exchanges, and voted to support several provisions of healthcare reform that benefit children.

David Cicilline, US Congressional Representative, District 1. Cicilline supported the passage of PPACA and believes it was a historic and vital step towards ensuring that every American has access to affordable health care. While he sees room for improvement in the current law, for the thousands of Rhode Islanders without health insurance, protecting the programs created through the recent healthcare reform is one of his top priorities.

Jim Langevin, US Congressional District 2. Langevin is a long-time supporter of achieving comprehensive reform. He voted for the Affordable Care Act, cast other votes to improve access to healthcare for children, and voted against repealing funding to the state Health Benefit Exchanges,

What’s best for you and your family’s health, and pocketbook? You decide tomorrow, November 6.

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Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, is a member of local organizations like the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, HRM-RI, SHRM, WELCOA, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council, and participates in the Lieutenant Governor’s Health Benefits Exchange work group of the Health Care Reform Commission.

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