In back-to-back talks in an auditorium at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Democrat Annie Kuster and Republican Charlie Bass laid out their vision for health care.
The event was part of the hospital's Health Policy Grand Rounds, which allows staff to directly question and share concerns with candidates.
"We have great concerns about sequestration, and the two percent across the board medicare reductions, we have great concerns about the reduction in physician fees," said DHMC's Frank McDougall.
And the list goes on -- including funding for medical education. "There is only two places in northern New England where future doctors are trained -- it's here and with our colleagues up at Fletcher Allen at UVM. That funding is in great jeopardy," McDougall said.
Kuster, who challenged Bass unsuccessfully for the 2nd District seat in 2010, said a major focus should be on preventative care. She also opposes a voucher system for Medicare, which she said her opponent has voted for in the Paul Ryan budget. And then there's the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Kuster supports it but says the issue of how to deal with rising costs remains. "Small businesses were concerned that they couldn't afford the cost of health care. Individuals were concerned about health care bankruptcies across the country, so we definitely needed to address health care. My concern is that I don't think it was explained very well," she said.
Bass, on the other hand, has repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare, saying that while reform is needed, now is not the right time. "Nobody should say that they support the current system that existed before. But to federalize a 5th of the U.S. economy and create so much uncertainty in this very difficult economic time in America I think was unwise," he said.
He said giving states more flexibility on how they spend Medicare dollars is a start. He said that will help bring down costs and allow continued access. And access to health care is something on the minds of all the people on hand for the grand rounds. "When folks have access to health insurance, they are healthier," McDougall said.
DHMC does not endorse candidates in any election. The candidates for Governor in New Hampshire have also talked health care here. And DHMC is also organizing a get-out-the-vote campaign called "We Care, We Vote."
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