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Health care No. 1 issue for 2020 election

The voice came from the back of the Marshall Area YMCA men’s locker room.

“Did you read Rahm Emanuel’s column on medicare-for-all?” I was asked.

Emanuel is the former Chicago mayor and White House chief of staff in the President Barack Obama administration. He wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune a few weeks back.

“Medicare-for-all is a pipe dream,” he said in the op-ed. He urged Democrats to abandoned that health care mantra.

My answer to the question was yes, but I also said there was more than 20 candidates other than Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren still in the hunt for the Democratic presidential nomination. Most of them are not pushing the Medicare-for-all concept.

My answer was kind of ignored, and conversations moved on to other subjects. But there’s no doubt the Medicare-for-all proposals scare many, while others are intrigued by the concept.

Medicare-for-all dominates conversations because, let’s face it, health care looms large in the 2020 election — the races for president, Congress and state races.

And it was health care that was on my mind when Dr. Noel Collis arrived at the Independent office Wednesday wearing a USS Ronald Reagan fleece to talk about his campaign bid as a Republican for Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District that is presently held by Democrat Collin Peterson.

The internal medicine specialist practiced in Hutchinson for 31 years. So it’s fair to say he has the experience to back up any proposals he has for fixing the nation’s health care system.

“Health care is my No. 1 issue,” he told me. “My concern as a doctor who has practiced — what Obamacare has done to our district and to our patients because Obamacare contains regulations and mandates which drive up the cost of care which led to shutting down clinics and hospitals.

“What people don’t stop and think about often enough is that the individual mandate was forcing people to buy health care from major corporations who’s executives make millions of dollars a year and these corporations were exempt from the anti-kick back statues in federal law. They took billions of dollars out of the system and denied care for patients.”

Collis repeated his support for President Donald Trump throughout the interview. He praises the president as a bold leader who is fighting Washington’s control over the American people.

I reminded Collis that Trump continues to do what he can to dismantle Obamacare, but fails to offer a replacement

“I think that’s a fair criticism,” he told me. And he offered his solution.

“We have 50 states, let each state come up with their own plan and let’s look at what works the best — which is better than one-size fits all of bureaucratic regulations out of Washington. The estimates right now are that the waste in health care — I want to say it’s between 35 and 40 percent since Obamacare,” he said. “Restoring the system at the state level would allow us to channel those resources back to patient care and empower patients to the tests they need and the care they need without some Wall Street corporation saying you can’t have this — we want more money.”

Collis argues that bringing competition back into health care will cure the ills of what he believes is a broken system.

“We need to restore transparency and get competition back into the system,” he said. To some extent, that involves restoring doctors, hospitals, clinics and creating incentives and taking the money these corporations are sucking out of the system and bring them back so the patients can have those resources available so their care is taken care of and their best interests are addressed which is our Hippocratic Oath. Do what’s right for the patient.”

Is Collis’ health care solution more viable than the Medicare-of-all cry by some Democrats? Or better than keeping Obamacare, but making improvements? Well that’s for voters to decide next November. In the meantime, buckle up, it’s going to be long and bumpy road to Election Day.

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