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Monday, November 03, 2008

Elli Schwiesow on Health Care in South Dakota

Dakota Voice wraps up our series on issues with District 32 Independent Senate candidate Elli Schwiesow.

Schwiesow, a life-long Republican, faces Republican Stan Adelstein and Democrat Tom Katus in tomorrow's election.

In this series, Schwiesow has discussed her stand on the issues of
taxes, Second Amendment rights, universal preschool, energy, Native American issues, Initiated Measure 11, and education funding. In today's final installment she discusses health care.

Asked about the Zaniya Health Care Task Force which took place last year, Schwiesow said that while the task force compiled a great deal of useful statistics, it remains unclear just what will be done with them and where they may be used to take health care in South Dakota.

"I am concerned about who is setting the agenda," said Schwiesow. "Do they have consumers in mind or do they have those involved in the health care industry in mind?"

Schwiesow thinks the best role the government can and should play is simply to keep the playing field level.

"It's difficult to do even that when dealing with the monopolies often involved in health care," said Schwiesow. "Things like insurance companies, hospitals, physicians...each entity presents huge barriers to entry that prevent competition."

"I do not favor government involvement," she continued. "I would like someone at the state or federal level to remove artificial barriers so that a South Dakota consumer could shop around and purchase health insurance in any state to receive the best plan his money could buy. Consumers in states adjoining South Dakota pay less for similar health plans than we do. That is not right and it would seem a simple matter to require that any insurer that does business in South Dakota should extend the same premiums to our citizens that they receive in bordering states.

"I've always though that health care should be competitive, and insurance should be competitive. Surrounding states have much cheaper insurance than South Dakota, and if we opened our markets to insurance from other states that would help greatly."

Schwiesow also said we should try to expand insurance pools to reduce risk so that older citizens are not priced out of the market while others are denied access due to pre-existing conditions.

She also believes consumer involvement is key in improving our system and bringing down costs. This includes the customer being more involved in health care decisions and cost options, but also in simple things like taking better care of ourselves with better diet and exercise.

"America has the best health care system in the world," said Schwiesow. "People from around the world including Canada come for the quality care we have here.

"Is health care the responsibility of government, and what do you do about all the uninsured people? I believe it is something for private individuals to work out, it certainly isn't the government's role to do that."


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