City commission candidates asked how Obamacare will affect health insurance locally
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
“Save the best question for last,” city commission candidate Janet Willimon said in response to the final question posed by moderator Earl Watt at last week’s candidate forum sponsored by the Seward County Republicans and the Leader & Times.
Since it was first proposed as federal legislation, Obamacare has received much in the way of criticism for its mandates that would require all U.S. citizens to purchase health insurance. Locally, with city staff already being provided the benefit of health care, the contenders in this year’s Liberal City Commission race were asked whether the law would affect city employees in a positive or a negative way, and most of the candidates sounded off on the negative side.
Willimon herself said Obamacare is unconstitutional, citing several recent legal actions taken.
“A federal judge in Florida has ruled it unconstitutional,” she said. “Twenty-six states have filed lawsuits. I see nowhere in this document that it would benefit anyone. For the city, it would not allow them freedom of choice for the plan. The way I understand that, the city bids that out every three years. We don’t know what’s coming down the pike, but my answer is very simple – unconstitutional.”
Challenger Steve Frazier said the health insurance regulation puts the community’s citizens in the same boat as the nation’s.
“Obamacare would affect the city and its employees very negatively along with all the other citizens in Liberal and the rest of the United States,” he said. “I see nothing good about Obamacare.”
Candidate John Blackmore said simply Obamacare will not help.
Incumbent Dave Harrison said he is unsure of the effect the legislation will have locally.
“I have no idea what Obamacare is,” he said. “I don’t know whether it’s going to adversely affect us or not. If you believe what you hear, certainly, it’s going to affect it negatively, but I – to date – haven’t found anybody that’s actually read or knows what’s in Obamacare. I don’t know how you know how it’s going to affect it, but the bet is that it will.”
Challenger Marlena Nobles said while many have not read the Obamacare law, she has, and she said without a doubt, it cannot help city employees.
“I know what’s in it,” she said. “No, it cannot give them better health care than what they have, and what’s more, it can’t help this country at all. It’s illegal. It’s immoral, and it’s unconstitutional as stated.”
After candidate J.D. Cox passed on answering the question, incumbent Larry Koochel said Obamacare is, basically, trying to fix something that he believes is not broken.
“You’ve got the best health care in the world now,” he said. “I don’t know why we want to change it.”
Incumbent Bob Carlile agreed with Koochel, saying Obamacare is pure and simple socialism.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s illegal. It’s immoral. They’re trying to force the citizens to do something they might not want to do, and they’re going to force you to buy health insurance whether you like it or not. We’ve got the greatest health care in the world. I’m against it. There’s no question about it. What is it 2,800 pages? Nobody knows what’s in it because they have not read the 2,800 pages. Then they turned around and gave companies and unions exemptions.”