Twelve years ago I beat cancer -- after going through that, all of the political attack ads from out-of-state special interest groups seem pretty silly.
When it comes to the health care bill, there are good things and there are some serious problems that make no sense at all. But we can't go back to the days when people could be denied care because of a pre-existing condition -- and that's just what my opponent voted to do.
Above all, health care reform should make health insurance coverage more secure and affordable for North Dakotans, not less. I won't vote to take away care from seniors who depend on Medicare, nor will I vote to deny care for pre-existing conditions, and I'll fight to make sure our hospitals are able to keep their doors open.
Protect the Good
Because I believe we need to make health care more secure and affordable, I support provisions that provide tax breaks for small businesses to help them provide health insurance and more preventive care. Additionally, I back important reforms that prevent health insurance companies from denying coverage over pre-existing conditions, stop insurers from ending insurance coverage when people get old or sick and allow young adults to stay on their parents' policy until age 26.
And I believe the $650 million for North Dakota hospitals included in the Frontier Amendment helps ensure fair reimbursement to healthcare providers, which means North Dakotans can count on greater access and higher quality care in their health care systems. We can't afford to lose any of these provisions.
Fix the Bad
But there are some serious problems with the law, like the federal mandate requiring people to buy health insurance and way too much red tape for small businesses. And just as important, we must do more to rein in health care costs, which are predicted to reach 19.3 percent of GDP by 2019. That's not sustainable.
We can help cut costs by focusing on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. In 2010 alone, Medicare and Medicaid made some $70 billion in improper payments. Reforming our payment system means a stronger Medicare system for our seniors.
I also support repealing a provision of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits the use of medical savings accounts, such as the Flexible Spending Arrangements and Health Savings Accounts, for payment of over the counter medications. I want to remove this restriction so North Dakotans have more options available to pay for their medical costs.
Stop the Washington Slogans, Focus on the Solutions
The debate over "repeal" symbolizes a lot of what's wrong with Washington right now. There are too many politicians on both sides who are holding the country hostage to advance narrow political agendas.
We need to put politics aside and do what's right for North Dakota and for the country. And, when it comes to things like the health care law, that means keeping what's good and fixing what's bad. It's just common sense, and that's why I'm running for Senate.