Buck talks health care in Vail | VailDaily.com

Buck talks health care in Vail

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
Ken Buck

VAIL, Colorado – Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck is not a fan of the new federal health care law.

That was clear Friday when Buck met with Colorado doctors at the Vail Cascade.

“The American people do not believe that Congress acted in the best interest of the American people because they rammed through such a large bill in a corrupt way,” he said.

Buck wants to repeal the federal health care overhaul. He takes issue with the pure size of the bill, saying lawmakers don’t want the American people to know what’s in it. He also has a problem with the “corrupt” deals that went into passing it.

“When you have to give the senator from Nebraska a Cornhusker kickback and the senator from Louisiana, I forget what they call her – the Louisiana Purchase or something – it’s clear they’re not dealing with healthcare,” he said. “They’re trying to deal with all these other areas.”

Members of the Colorado Medical Society listened to a question-answer session with Buck during a luncheon. Buck’s opponent in the November election, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, couldn’t make it to the luncheon because of prior engagements.

An official with the American Medical Association led Buck through a list of technical questions on health care.

Buck said he would not support attempts by the federal government to weaken Colorado’s tort laws.

Nor, Buck said, would he support any attempts to increase caps on “non-economic damages” – the amount of money someone can win in a medical malpractice case for intangible harms like severe pain.

“I think the tort system we have in Colorado, for the most part, works,” said Buck, who is Weld County’s district attorney. “I think there should be some alternative dispute resolutions, ideas that would be valuable to introduce, especially for lower level cases.”

He said he sees tort reform as a way to drive down insurance costs and reduce “defensive” medicine.

Buck said he does not support universal health care coverage but would support a “safety net” for uninsured people who encounter emergencies. He did not elaborate on the details of the safety net or how it would be funded.

Those comments came after a doctor in the crowd asked Buck how he would solve a hypothetical problem. Suppose a mother brings her uninsured child into the emergency room with a case of appendicitis, the doctor said.

Should the doctor send the child home, move ahead with the appendix operation knowing the emergency room doctors will not be paid or require everyone to have health insurance even if they can’t afford it.

Buck said he would not give everybody universal coverage and “drive up the number of doctor visits per person.”

“I think what we need to do is have that safety net to make sure that that young person gets the operation they need and recovers,” he said.

“The problem with universal care, and we have seen in it in other countries, is it drives up demand. When supply stays the same and we drive demand out of sight, costs are going to go out of sight, not go down.”

Buck also agreed to make it a top priority to improve the formula for reimbursing doctors through Medicare –a payment system the doctors referred to as “fatally flawed.”

A spokesman for Bennet responded to some of Buck’s statements about the new health care law in an e-mail.

“Ken Buck’s extreme position would drive up the cost of health care, force taxes to increase and require the insured to pay more to cover medical bills of the uninsured,” spokesman Trevor Kincaid said. “That is not only extreme, it’s economically irresponsible.

“Michael recognizes health care reform wasn’t perfect and knows there is more work to be done. However, that doesn’t mean we should listen to Ken Buck’s extreme talk and allow big insurance to gouge patients, deny care and take advantage of seniors in need of prescriptions.”

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.

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