NORWALK, Conn. – Reforming health care and getting the economy growing were the focus of U.S. Congressional candidates Jim Himes and Steve Obsitnik at their second debate Thursday at the Norwalk Inn.
The two agreed that bipartisan solutions are needed to fix Medicare, but they disagreed on the effectiveness of recent health-care reforms such as Obamacare. Himes praised health-care reform, saying that it provides coverage to millions who had none. But he acknowledged that there is still work to be done to fix the country’s health-care problems.
“Medicare sits on top of an enormously expensive and enormously inefficient health-care system, which delivers good results to people who have access to it, but spends two times per person what any other industrial country spends on health care and delivers on average worse results,” said Himes, a Greenwich resident and the Democratic incumbent in the 4th Congressional District. “That inefficiency must be extracted from the system, that’s how we fix it. Not by vouchers, not by capping the amounts of support we give to our seniors, but by getting at that inefficiency.”
Medicare must be preserved for people in the system and future generations, said Obsitnik, a Westport resident. But health-care costs have to be addressed and government reforms are not sustainable, he said.
“A one size fits all government solution, like No Child Left Behind or the VA hospital, which has not been taking care of veterans the way it should, is not the path forward,” he said. “It was the wrong time and the wrong approach. It was the wrong time because people were hurting job-wise. We have 9 percent unemployment that we should have been addressing."
One of the reasons the economy has not grown as much as we would like is because of uncertainty in the housing markets, Himes said. Since the taxpayers bailed out the banks, it is the banks’ turn to stretch and modify more mortgages so people can stay in their homes, he said.
The answer is jobs, Obsitnik said. The government needs to create an environment where businesses can thrive, he said, by keeping the cost of doing business down, revising the tax codes and giving small businesses access to skilled workers and capital.
The debate was hosted by the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, the Business Council of Fairfield County, the Bridgeport Regional Council and News 12 Connecticut. The next debate will take place Sunday, Oct. 28, at Wilton High School.