An incumbent seeking a sixth term in the statewide position or two insurance agents who are making their first runs for political office.
Welti, who campaigns against crony capitalism and the influence of lobbyists, said his run stems from personal experience with an insurance problem. Five years ago, his wife and infant son lost their medical insurance when the company that had their policy left the state. They looked unsuccessfully for coverage they could afford, and wound up paying the federal fines required by the Affordable Care Act until those provisions were overturned.
He wants to open up the insurance market to allow
Kreidler has opposed suggestions by some
"It's unworkable," he said. A
Welti said that while buying plans from all 50 states might be a problem, the state should consider allowing cross-state insurance purchases among Northwest states because people move frequently among
Kreidler has been critical of sharing plans, issuing cease-and-desist orders against two that described themselves as health care sharing ministries for failing to follow state and federal regulations that require regular audits, limited membership and require being in existence since before 2000.
Some people have had problems getting medical costs covered when they apply for reimbursement with the association.
People need to read their policies more closely to understand what's being covered and what isn't, Welti said. "I think we need to start educating high school and college students about insurance," he added.
Kreidler has been a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act, which he said has brought the state's uninsured rate down to about 5% from about 14% before the law passed. That would go back up if the
"They're trying to take it down in the middle of a pandemic," he said. "If that happens, we're in deep trouble. No state has been able to take over funding" for expanded Medicaid that covers some low income people under the ACA.
While Kreidler and Welti have some strong disagreements about different technical aspects of the insurance market, Patel is emphasizing different themes in his campaign. If elected, he said, he'd like to occupy the office for about 60% of the time, and invite Kreidler and Welti each to run it for 20% of the time.
"I don't see them as my opponents. I see them as my allies," he said, although he hasn't discussed the shared work arrangement with them.
Patel describes himself as being "on the autism scale" but high functioning, which he said allows him to use a part of his brain that most people don't. With it, he said he can put himself in the mind of Reagan and Jefferson, to whom he believes he is biologically related through
He describes the Affordable Care Act as a Hamiltonian federalist action and wants to start a Jeffersonian counterbalance to stabilize it. He said he's willing to work with the federal government regardless of whether
The race, like the office itself, isn't high profile. It will be far down on a primary ballot that features lists of would-be governors, lieutenant governors -- and in some districts, congressional candidates -- in double digits.
It's rarely a race with high campaign spending.
So far this year, Welti, with more than
Patel hasn't raised any money yet.
Because of the restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic, campaigning is different than any of his previous runs for the seat, or for any other elected office he's held, Kreidler said. All of the meetings and fund-raising events take place over the internet rather than face-to-face.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said.
Welti has been traveling the state with a long stop in
If he makes it through the top two primary, he'd be the first third-party candidate to advance to the general election in a statewide primary that had both a Democratic and Republican candidate.
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