Local candidates give their views on Affordable Care Act


Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.

Local candidates for state office expressed their views on how the state should respond to the Affordable Care Act, state-run property insurance and education spending during a meeting of insurance and financial professionals Thursday.

Incumbent District 21 state Rep. Keith Perry, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Andrew Morey, both of Gainesville, attended along with Republican Senate District 7 candidate Rob Bradley at the forum hosted by the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Gainesville chapter at the Gainesville Golf and Country Club.

NAIFA Florida is concerned that the state's reluctance to participate in the Affordable Care Act means the federal government will establish a health-care exchange that cuts out insurance agents, said member Rod Whited.

Republicans Perry and Bradley both said that could be a moot point if Americans elect Mitt Romney, who has promised to repeal so-called “Obamacare.”

Morey said he hoped the state would establish a health-care exchange.

Regarding the state turning down federal money to expand Medicaid, Perry said he favored a more business-like approach that instead would use private insurance.

He called Medicaid the worst coverage for the most expense because of bureaucracy and fraud.

Morey said it would be more fiscally responsible to accept the funding so more people are covered by Medicaid instead of seeking health care in emergency rooms where care is more expensive.

Bradley, who faces Democratic challenger Will Mazzota, said it is prudent for the state to wait for the election instead of spending a lot of money preparing for something that could change.

Education became the topic when candidates were asked how they would restore funding.

Morey said the problem was not just budget cuts but the choices legislators made with the available money such as tax breaks to industries instead of more money for education, and the creation of Florida Polytechnic while other universities faced cuts.

After Perry pointed out that the Legislature balanced the state budget without raising taxes or fees, Morey said cuts to universities resulted in higher tuition.

Perry said improving education is not just a matter of spending more money. He said better pay should go to better teachers.

Bradley said the state should continue to invest in education, “but not a blank check.” He said the state should continue and expand on accountability measures.

Bradley said he supported state employees contributing to their own retirement plans.

Morey said public employees such as teachers receive good benefits and pension plans to make up for lower pay.

“The state should do its part,” he said.

Asked about the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Bradley said the number of policies should be reduced to return the agency to its original purpose as the insurer of last resort and premiums be set based on risk so inland property owners no longer subsidize coastal policies.

Morey said he agreed.

Perry took that a step further, saying the state should get out of the insurance business and turn it over to a competitive private market.

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