Health debate still a priority

By Stephanie Saviola

With the upcoming Illinois primaries and President Barack Obama’s health care proposal still in limbo, candidates have a wide range of views on health care and how it will affect the country if things change.

Illinois Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Patrick Hughes, opposes government intervention and government-controlled health care, but does not agree completely with the current health care system.

“The system does need reform to make it more cost-effective and more available to the American people, but this should be done through several small changes,” said Mike Sullivan, campaign manager for Hughes.

Englewood resident and journalist LeAlan Jones, who is running for Senate as a Green Party candidate, is in favor of a variation of health care reform.

“I am for a form of universal health care, but as far as the current bill, I do not see where it is going to be creating new jobs,” Jones said. “The reform should be creating jobs in the health care industry and health care liabilities.”

On Jan. 19, Scott Brown (R-Mass.) won the Massachusetts Senate seat, formerly held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, which a Republican hasn’t won in 46 years.

“Hopefully Brown comes into the party with views that are reflective of people in the office,” Jones said.

Democratic Sen. Kennedy held the position from 1962 until his death in August 2009. Kennedy was a staunch advocate for health care reform.

“When a lot of people think of Massachusetts, they think of a Democratic state but things have changed,” Sullivan said. “It will have a positive impact on not only Illinois but across the entire country.”

Republican congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said on his Web site he would like to lower the cost of health care for all Americans without compromising the doctor-patient relationship and without raising taxes. Kirk also proposed the Medical Rights and Reform Act.

According to a statement on the Web site of candidate Cheryle Robinson Jackson (D-Ill.), she believes there should be a government-run insurance plan. Jackson also believes that Medicare and health care for veterans needs to be protected.

Democratic candidate and Inspector General for the city of Chicago David Hoffman stated on his Web site that he supports a health insurance reform if it ensures that insurance companies won’t refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Kathleen Duffy, the events and communications organizer for Campaign for Better Health Care, Voice of Illinois, said “Whoever gets [elected] we are more than happy to work with them and ensure that health care reform is implemented in such a way that the people of Illinois get the full benefit of the system.”

The Illinois primary is on Feb. 2.