Health care views present wide gap between candidates in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District

Republican Dale Crafts, a former state legislator and career businessman, is running on his resume in challenging incumbent freshman Democrat Jared Golden.“I’m a free market guy,” Crafts said today, as he picked up the endorsement of the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses, which counts 3,000 Maine small businesses as members, including the Crafts family auto dealership in Lisbon the candidate’s father started in 1951.“It makes a difference to have someone like Dale, who knows what it means to run a business,” said NFIB Maine State Director David Clough. “There’s no substitute for knowing you have sales at the top, but you don’t have a profit at the bottom unless you manage expenses.”One of the fastest growing expense for businesses is employee health insurance premiums, and Crafts believes competition keeps health care quality high and prices lower.“You got to get insurance companies competing,” Crafts said. “You can go to one hospital, it’s $1,500 for an MRI. You can go down the street and get one for $1,000.”Crafts criticized Golden for allegedly supporting spending trillions of tax dollars to provide universal health care. He said, “That means all of these small businesses, people with health care that like their health care, like their doctor – he wants to take that all away.”Golden’s reply: “I am not going to take away anyone’s access or right to have private insurance – that’s what Dale Crafts says. I am going to continue to fight to make sure that everyone has access to health care they can afford.”Golden opposes “Medicare For All,” though he supports letting people buy into Medicare, government insurance for seniors, before they turn 65, the current age of eligibility.Golden said, “I think we need to have options for people, and a public option is one way to do that.”Crafts did not offer an opinion. “I would have to take a look at the details of that,” he said.But Crafts asserted the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama should be repealed and replaced with a free market system.“I’m not for government-run health care, because government doesn’t run anything efficient like a businessman,” Crafts said. “The left seems to want to go down this socialist road to the government has the answers.”Golden said, “The power of competition hasn’t been working too well for the American people or the people I represent going on how many decades now? When I hear someone say ‘free market solution,’ what I hear is, ‘You have cancer, and you can’t afford to pay for that treatment, you’re out of luck.’”He added, “If you get rid of the Affordable Care Act, you lose protections for people with preexisting conditions.”However, the candidates agree the federal government, whether the Medicare program or the Health and Humans Services Department, should negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, like the VA does for military veterans.In the current House session, Golden voted for a bill that passed to cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 a year. A similar bill, with a $2,500 cap, has passed the Senate Finance Committee.Golden, along with a group of bipartisan House members, has written congressional leaders urging a compromise on the issue this fall.Golden said, “I think what we’re advocating is let’s not let gridlock in Washington stand in the way, even as we’re moving closer to the election.”

Republican Dale Crafts, a former state legislator and career businessman, is running on his resume in challenging incumbent freshman Democrat Jared Golden.

“I’m a free market guy,” Crafts said today, as he picked up the endorsement of the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses, which counts 3,000 Maine small businesses as members, including the Crafts family auto dealership in Lisbon the candidate’s father started in 1951.

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“It makes a difference to have someone like Dale, who knows what it means to run a business,” said NFIB Maine State Director David Clough. “There’s no substitute for knowing you have sales at the top, but you don’t have a profit at the bottom unless you manage expenses.”

One of the fastest growing expense for businesses is employee health insurance premiums, and Crafts believes competition keeps health care quality high and prices lower.

“You got to get insurance companies competing,” Crafts said. “You can go to one hospital, it’s $1,500 for an MRI. You can go down the street and get one for $1,000.”

Crafts criticized Golden for allegedly supporting spending trillions of tax dollars to provide universal health care.

He said, “That means all of these small businesses, people with health care that like their health care, like their doctor – he wants to take that all away.”

Golden’s reply: “I am not going to take away anyone’s access or right to have private insurance – that’s what Dale Crafts says. I am going to continue to fight to make sure that everyone has access to health care they can afford.”

Golden opposes “Medicare For All,” though he supports letting people buy into Medicare, government insurance for seniors, before they turn 65, the current age of eligibility.

Golden said, “I think we need to have options for people, and a public option is one way to do that.”

Crafts did not offer an opinion. “I would have to take a look at the details of that,” he said.

But Crafts asserted the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama should be repealed and replaced with a free market system.

“I’m not for government-run health care, because government doesn’t run anything efficient like a businessman,” Crafts said. “The left seems to want to go down this socialist road to the government has the answers.”

Golden said, “The power of competition hasn’t been working too well for the American people or the people I represent going on how many decades now? When I hear someone say ‘free market solution,’ what I hear is, ‘You have cancer, and you can’t afford to pay for that treatment, you’re out of luck.’”

He added, “If you get rid of the Affordable Care Act, you lose protections for people with preexisting conditions.”

However, the candidates agree the federal government, whether the Medicare program or the Health and Humans Services Department, should negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs, like the VA does for military veterans.

In the current House session, Golden voted for a bill that passed to cap out-of-pocket drug costs for seniors on Medicare at $2,000 a year. A similar bill, with a $2,500 cap, has passed the Senate Finance Committee.

Golden, along with a group of bipartisan House members, has written congressional leaders urging a compromise on the issue this fall.

Golden said, “I think what we’re advocating is let’s not let gridlock in Washington stand in the way, even as we’re moving closer to the election.”