Oct. 10--Repealing the Affordable Care Act will be job No. 1 for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell if Republicans gain a majority in the Senate as a result of the Nov. 6 election.
That's what McConnell told a group Tuesday during a forum at The Medical Center in Bowling Green, which he hosted with Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green.
"If Mitt Romney is the president instead of Barack Obama, he shares that view," McConnell said.
If Obama wins another term as president, he needs to go in a different direction on the issue of health care, he said.
The senators gave their take on the legislation known as Obama-care and fielded questions from an audience during the event.
McConnell said there is a problem with how the bill, which he referred to as a "2,700-page, partisan monstrosity," was passed without an effort to get bipartisan support.
Major pieces of social legislation such as Social Security and civil rights had support from both parties and were passed at a period of time when the country had reached a consensus on those issues, he said.
McConnell said the move toward more government involvement in the health care system is reminiscent of the system many European countries have, mentioning specifically Greece, which is dealing with an economic crisis.
"In my view, a government takeover of health care is the single biggest step in the direction of Europeanizing our country," he said.
Paul said funding problems facing programs such as Medicare and Social Security are a result of demographics with people in older generations having too many children and people in younger generations having too few.
"This isn't anybody's fault, one person," he said. "It's not Republicans' fault. It's not Democrats' fault. If you want to blame somebody, it's your grandparents' fault."
Paul said there are two directions to go to deal with the problems facing the health care system -- more marketplace or more government.
"Government doesn't do anything very well," Paul said. "We have to have a government, but we should minimize what it does because they don't get the same signals. It's not that they're inherently stupid -- although it's a debatable question -- it's that they don't have to make a profit, so they don't have to make wise decisions."
Paul said he has proposed a bill that he thinks will fix Medicare by allowing all senior citizens to have the same health care plan as Congress, while raising the age of eligibility gradually over a number of years and means-testing benefits.
Dr. Gul Sahetya asked the senators about access to contraception.
McConnell said there are some religious-based organizations that don't want to provide contraceptive coverage. "So I guess that means, if having insurance pay for that service is important to you, you would probably work somewhere else," he said.
That's an issue that will likely be resolved in the courts, he said.
Paul said such coverage shouldn't be mandated, but that contraception is available through services at organizations such as local health departments.
After the forum, Sahetya said she thought senators tried to address her question and she was impressed with their openness and willingness to think outside the box when it comes to health care.
Community health centers that offer contraception should be open later than 5 p.m. so that people who work can have access without suffering a financial setback, she said.
"I think there's a lot of problems of child abuse and mental health that can be prevented by making sure that children who are desired and wanted by the mother are brought into the world," Sahetya said.
Dr. Mark Yurchisin told the senators that things are getting harder for him as a solo practitioner because the number of his patients on Medicare is getting larger as they age and Medicare payments keep going down.
McConnell said he believes there has been a drop in the number of solo practitioners of medicine in the wake of the Affordable Health Care Act because of added complexities.
After the forum, Yurchisin said he still works with Medicare patients -- they make up about 20 percent of his patients -- but many of them became Medicare patients after they started seeing him.
"My patients have aged with me," he said.
The drop in compensation for Medicare makes the decision to continue to accept those patients harder because of the financial strain, Yurchisin said.
He said the forum was informative, but he would like to see the senators, when they go back to Washington, work toward a bipartisan solution to problems with the nation's health care system.
(c)2012 the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.)
Visit the Daily News (Bowling Green, Ky.) at www.bgdailynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services