This year, Democrat Kreidler's challenger is different, but Republican
Schrock, who was director of the state
They constitute the oldest matchup for statewide office. Kreidler turns 73 next week, and Schrock turns 72 in October.
First elected to the office in 2000, Kreidler is a licensed optometrist, former legislator and congressman who has overseen the state's transition to federal mandates to expand health insurance coverage. He and Schrock differ on the outcome of that change, and even on what they call it. Kreidler uses the official Affordable Care Act; Schrock uses the more familiar term considered derogatory by some, Obamacare.
"I think Obamacare is collapsing," Schrock said recently. "It's destroyed the individual health insurance market in the state. Small businesses, including farmers, are unable to get plans that are what they want."
The numbers don't support the idea that it's collapsing, Kreidler counters. Before 2014, when the law took effect, nine companies offered health insurance in the state; now there are 13. Those companies also offer a greater variety of coverage plans, although they don't offer some of the least expensive plans that didn't provide some coverage required by federal law, like maternity care and prescription drugs, he said.
Insurance rates are going up, although not as fast as they were before the law went into effect, he said. In the first two years of the ACA, insurance companies just were guessing what their costs would be. Now they have hard data, and some costs are higher than expected. As commissioner, he can't order insurance companies to lose money.
Schrock said the state should expand the list of health care providers insurance companies must offer to their customers.
But Kreidler said
The Affordable Care Act needs improvements, Kreidler said. He hopes after
Schrock predicted Obamacare "as we've known it" will be gone in 2018, but he couldn't say what should be put in its place. "Beyond Obamacare is up to elected officials that set the policy," he said.
In the primary, Kreidler collected 58 percent of the vote, with big margins in most
Schrock said he doesn't plan a big advertising blitz but will rely instead on a "grass-roots effort." But what some would consider a key to that effort, a campaign website at the address he listed in the state Voters Guide, wasn't up and running Thursday.
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