SPRINGFIELD — Republican congressional candidate Rodney Davis on Monday decried "a government-run health care system" but endorsed federal programs that subsidize rural hospitals and community health care providers like the Frances Nelson Health Center in Champaign.
Davis — who is running against Democrat David Gill, a Bloomington physician, and independent John Hartman of Taylorville in the 13th Congressional District — has already called for the "repeal and replacement" of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
On Monday, in a conference call with reporters, Davis along with U.S. Rep. Tom Price, an Atlanta area orthopedic surgeon and Republican congressman, unveiled his own health care plan that has some elements of Obama's health care program, including requiring insurers to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.
But Davis called one part of the administration's cost-cutting measures "a stupid rule." It would prohibit so-called rural critical access hospitals from operating within 10 miles of each other. There are two such federally subsidized hospitals in the 13th District, in Hillsboro and Litchfield, according to Davis.
"This is a point we constantly make, and which Doctor Price makes, that government shouldn't be making decisions on where and when to site these very successful institutions that are some of the largest employers in those communities," Davis said. "I am also a big fan of federal qualified health care centers, community health care centers, that provide primary care access to those who need it most, and keep people out of the emergency rooms, which are one of the most high-cost portions of our delivery system."
There are six community health care centers in the 13th District, according to Davis' staff, in Champaign, Urbana, Springfield, Decatur, Collinsville and Bunker Hill.
Meanwhile, Gill called Davis' plan "little more than payback for his insurance company sponsors," and he said that Price "should be ashamed of himself for advocating a return to a broken health care system that denies care to millions and costs the life of an uninsured American every 12 minutes."
Gill also said that "Davis' family has benefited from some of the best 'government-run' health care for years paid for by the taxpayers. Rodney wants to protect those gold-plated plans for insiders like him but deny more affordable health care options for the rest of us."
Gill, who has said he would not have voted for Obama's Affordable Care Act, said Monday that "it needs to be improved but to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny you coverage for a pre-existing condition, charge women more for basic health care, drop you because you get sick — those are dangerous, life-threatening situations that we can't risk."
Davis, in his conference call with reporters, said that people should be able to buy their own policies and take them from one employer to another "and allow individuals the control over their medical destiny."
He said he believed a "market-based health care system" would drive down costs, even for people with pre-existing conditions. Today, some health insurers will not cover people with such conditions.
"When you allow for larger pools, larger pools of risk, and allow individuals to buy their catastrophic plans that are going to be part of a larger pool of individuals and a larger risk pool for those who provide that coverage, you're going to see the ability to cover those pre-existing conditions go down," Davis said.
Davis also said that tort reform must be part of any revision to the nation's health care system. He said it was "offensive" that it wasn't include in Obama's reform package.
Price said so-called "defensive medicine" is the result of lawsuit abuse and that it adds an estimated $600 billion to $800 billion to the cost of health care in the United States.
"Even if they're off by a factor of 50 percent, $400 billion is a lot of money still in Washington," he said.
Davis said the goal of his health care plan is "to make sure that every single American has the financial feasibility to purchase coverage that does the best for their family."
"The president's plan would force each and every America citizen to purchase coverage that the government thinks is best for them, not that they think or that they want," Davis said. "If what you think is the kind of health care that you want for you and your family doesn't fit the government definition, then you won't be able to get it."
Davis said Gill's call for a universal expansion of Medicare to cover all Americans would cost $3.6 trillion and "would be a lot less efficient."