Health Care Reform Is Major Election Issue
COLUMBIA - Max Lewis was an athlete going to college on scholarship. This all changed the summer after his freshman year. He was working on a road in Sedalia when he decided to jump into the water to cool off- a 21-foot jump into two feet of water.
It would be an understatement to say Lewis' life is different. Lewis is quadriplegic and receives six hours of attendant care per day. Without his power wheelchair and his attendant care, he would die.
Medicare pays for all of Lewis' care and he estimates 80 to 90 percent of the other residents in Paquin Tower are also on Medicare. "A lot of people in my position are very much for national health care," Lewis said.
Health care in an important issue to Lewis when he goes to vote and he is in favor of the changes national health care reform can bring. "It's just one step closer to making this a great nation they way it should be for every individual."
But not all individuals agree with Lewis' health care stance. Republican Amy Bremer opposes health care reform. "It's not fundamentally changing the system," she said. "We need to get insurance out of the hands of the government and into the competitive marketplace."
Bremer says the limits imposed by federal health care are "not what a free society and America are based on." She says she knows her needs and her family's needs best, and therefore dislikes the limits she says health care reform brings.
Bremer has long seen the value of health insurance, but it became a more important issue in her life about a year ago. She was eight months pregnant and on the chopping block to lose her job. "The first thing I thought of was, 'what am I going to do about health insurance?'"
As a mother, Bremer values the ability to make her own choices regarding health care. "It really affects freedom of choice. That's one thing that people don't really talk about. So if it's going to tell me that I have to have prescription drug coverage, I haven't taken prescription drugs in years. So I'm going to have to pay for that?!"
But the health care reform bill is about 2,400 pages, which means there are other provisions that aren't as highly politicized as the insurance mandate.
Judy Baker of the Department of Health and Human Services says the health care reform bill has a lot to offer. "A lot of people don't know all of the great things in the bill."
And perhaps, in the end, the bill will benefit the economy: "It's a good business decision to have a healthy workforce, healthy kids in schools."
But how much will Proposition C, passed in August to allow Missourians to opt out of federal health care, really affect Missouri?
University of Missouri Political Science professor Justin Dyer explained to KOMU that federal laws trump state laws. "When crafting legislation like this [Proposition C] at the state level, that creates a direct challenge to a federal law, they know that it's going to require a lawsuit," Dyer said.
But Congress justifies the insurance mandate as a regulation of interstate commerce. "That's the part that's being challenged by the states' attorneys general, saying Congress doesn't have the authority under the commerce clause to mandate individuals to purchase health care."