Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat Rob Quist says the healthcare bill the House passed yesterday, "gives a massive tax cut to millionaires while jacking up premiums for Montanans.” He says he would have voted against the bill.
Quist favors keeping the current Affordable Care Act in place, but says it needs some fixes. We’ll hear his comments on that in a moment.
Yesterday we asked Republican Greg Gianforte what he thinks of the healthcare bill the House passed.
"I wasn’t privy to all the dialog in D.C., but it sounds like they’ve got something done," Gianforte said. "I look forward to studying it. I’ve been really clear that any repeal and replace had to do three things: get premiums down, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and protect rural access for Montanans.
We hope to follow up with Gianforte on the specifics of the House healthcare bill soon.
Here’s Rob Quist on what he thinks needs fixed under the current healthcare law:
Rob Quist: I think one of the big things we have to work on is the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. My wife is allergic to bee stings and for her to carry an Epi-pen is $500 where she can get that same Epi-pen from her relatives in Canada for only $20. I think that having pharmaceutical companies at the table making our healthcare decisions is just wrong.
You know, the other things that I think that we can do is have price transparency to find out exactly what hospitals and health care providing facilities they're charging for each individual medical procedure.
Also I was meeting with the Montana Hospital Association and they said that one of the things that they could do to really help cut costs if administration costs were to be, you know, really looked at.
Eric Whitney: How do you bring those administrative costs down?
RQ: Well I think a lot of it is just the sheer bureaucracy, and if you have a system that is more like a Medicare system, that's one way. And not to have so many insurance companies would kind of make that happen that way.
EW: I'm sorry, you said having fewer insurance companies would be a solution. You think there need to be fewer insurance companies Montana?
RQ: Well, I'm not sure that that's true. I think that ... I didn't really say that. I think that one of the things that probably is driving the price up is having fewer insurance companies. I think competition is always, as you know, makes makes prices a lot better than having fewer to kind of run a monopoly.
EW: So having having more insurance companies would help cut down on administrative costs?
RQ: I guess I was making a point about how Medicare itself, if, but since there's really not the insurance companies involved that's kind of helps to keep costs down because you don't have to have the paperwork involved. ... And that's what insurance or hospitals have to have to deal with that, so that was my point.
EW: During the debate about the Affordable Care Act, people who felt it didn't go far enough have said we need Medicare for all, a single payer system. Is that what you're advocating for?
RQ: It would be great to eventually get there. But I think right now we need to really look at fixing the system in place to come up with bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care. I think that my opponent stands by the politicians in D.C. And you know their plan is going to hurt thousands of hardworking Montanans. And so that's the main thing. I think right now we need to strengthen the ACA and not repeal it. It will take 73,000 Montanans off of the coverage and also 24 million Americans.
That’s Democratic candidate for Congress Rob Quist. He spoke with MTPR’s Eric Whitney.