Senator Mark Warner (D) and challenger Daniel Gade debated health care and social security at a Tuesday debate hosted by the AARP and WTKR News 3. Warner stressed his record including support of the American Care Act (ACA) and criticized the Republican Party for trying to dismantle it. Gade described some potential compromises to the ACA and repeatedly called Warner a career politician.
Moderators asked the candidates what they would change about the ACA and how they would protect high-risk patients without increasing premiums.
“I’m not for this nonsense idea that somehow we’re going to tear out the ACA root and branch,” Gade said. “But the truth is, it’s impossible to do and it wouldn’t be advisable if we could.”
Gade called for preserving protections for preexisting conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until 26. However, Gade also called for bigger health savings accounts, better price transparency of medical services and to allow insurance to be sold across state lines.
Gade said, “You can’t trust somebody who’s taken $600,000 from pharmaceutical companies like Mark Warner has, to be the person who’s somehow going to be at the forefront of reducing prescription drug prices.”
“Mr. Gade spent the whole Republican nominating process criticizing me as being the deciding vote for ACA,” Warner replied. “I’m proud that John McCain and I stood up against a repeal plan that would have cost three-and-a-half million Americans with preexisting conditions the only law in America that protects them.”
“If there was some magic health savings account or private market solution that was going to have this magic wand to protect all the good things in the ACA, wouldn’t you think you would have heard about it by now? Wouldn’t there have been some proposal?”
Warner said he agreed with Gade that insurance should be sold across state lines.
“I backed legislation which is opposed by the whole pharmaceutical industry that would say, ‘Let’s do in America what other industrial nations have done and allow the government to negotiate on Medicare drug prices.’ There’s no reason why Americans should pay three, five, ten times more,” Warner said.
“What we’re looking at here again is a career politician who is saying, ‘The only thing we can do is we can throw up our hands and stay with the status quo,'” Gade replied.
Later in the debate, Gade and Warner agreed that Social Security and Medicare needed reform.
“Career politicians have kicked the can down the road for far too long.” Gade said, “When Mark Warner first ran in 1996 he said he was for reforming Medicare. He was for reforming Social Security and there were actually some reasonable proposals back there. But that was nearly 25 years ago and what we’ve seen from then to now is no serious effort at reform.”
Warner replied, “Simply calling someone a career politician over and over again doesn’t change the facts, and making false accusations doesn’t change the facts. The truth is, what I’m counting on the most is that Virginians know me, they know my record.”
In his closing, Gade said, “Virgina has to make a choice between career politicians who have broken promises time and again.”
“That’s what you’ve got when you elect career politicians,” Gade added. “I’m asking Virginia to choose something different. I’m asking you to choose a career servant rather than a career politician.”
“I know my opponent wants to kind of use the tired attack lines time and again,” Warner closed. “The problems we face aren’t red and blue. We’ve got to stop calling each other names and actually work together.”
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