4 of 5 House Democratic candidates take part in Hiawatha forum

Candidates shared views on Affordable Care Act, focused attacks on GOP rivals

Candidates, Democracy, Government Rotator,
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April 23, 2014 | 10:43 pm

HIAWATHA — First district congressional candidates offered tweaks they’d like to see in the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare, during a forum last night where they focused little on each others’ records.

Four of five Democratic candidates participated, including Swati Dandekar, 63, a former state senator and state utilities board member from Marion; Dave O’Brien, 58, an attorney from Cedar Rapids; Anesa Kajtazovic, 27, a state representative from Waterloo; and Monica Vernon, 56, a businesswoman and city council member from Cedar Rapids.

Patrick Murphy, a state representative from Dubuque, did not participate.

Early voting begins at 8 a.m. Thursday. The primary election is June 3.

All four candidates said last night they support the Affordable Care Act and will fight to protect it from repeal, but each offered suggestions for changes.

Kajtazovic said she will work to expand the Affordable Care Act so there’s total access, and would tweak the implementation of tax provisions of the plan.

Vernon said she’d work to improve the portability of health care plans. This refers to the ability keep a health care plan even if you change your job, or have another life change.

Dandekar said she’d like to see interstate competition among insurance companies to help push prices down.

“Let insurance companies compete across state lines,” Dandekar said. “By increasing competition we can lower the cost.”

Dandekar also suggested student loan forgiveness for doctors working in underserved areas, and a boost in telemedicine to provide better access to health care.

O’Brien was critical of disincentives, in the form of taxes, on better health care plans that employers may offer.

“There’s adverse tax consequences on certain health care plans,” O’Brien said. “There should not be a tax because it’s a good health care plan.”

Rod Blum, Steve Rathje, and Gail Boliver are running on the Republican side.

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