Kurt Schrader Rides Fine Line on Healthcare

Republican opponent Scott Bruun says cuts to Medicare will hurt Oregon seniors
October 27, 2010 -- Congressman Kurt Schrader isn’t exactly running away from healthcare like many Democratic incumbents in swing districts this year, but he isn’t actively campaigning on the issue either.
 
The fine line Schrader straddles on healthcare comes from his full-throated defense of his votes in favor of the major reform law passed earlier this year – including an initial version passed by the House with a public option – while distancing himself from President Barack Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
 
There are only about 20,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans out of close to 400,000 voters in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, which extends in the Willamette Valley from Corvallis to the southern reaches of Portland.
 
Schrader’s opponent, Republican Scott Bruun, says he would repeal the health reform law, which he’s called a government takeover and a “trillion-dollar disaster.” Instead, Bruun proposes “market-based reforms,” but there are no details on his Web site, and a spokeswoman for his campaign said she did not have additional information.
 
Neither campaign responded to requests from The Lund Report to answer a short list of questions dealing with healthcare.
 
“The problem with the national healthcare law is it pulls authority and autonomy away from Oregon and other states and centralizes it in Washington DC,” Bruun said at a televised debate between the candidates held by KGW and The Oregonian on October 21.
 
“Taking over the health care system didn’t happen,” Schrader responded. “Private insurance will still be 60 percent of the way people get healthcare.”
 
At the same debate Schrader declined to name the biggest healthcare reform legislation in a generation as one of three votes he took in Congress of which he was most proud. But when asked directly, Schrader is adamant the law will improve the lives of Oregonians and will be fully paid for.
 
“Repealing the healthcare bill would cut the tax breaks to small businesses, the self- employment deduction and deny the benefits we put into the Medicare system as a result of the reform act,” said Schrader, who cited his efforts to increase Medicare reimbursement as one of his top three accomplishments.
 
Schrader pointed to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that report the health reform law will lower the deficit by $143 billion over 10 years.
 
Bruun’s allegation that $500 billion in cuts to Medicare, which largely pays for the federal health reform law, will hurt thousands of Oregon seniors has been criticized as “barely true”.
 
“There are no cuts to guaranteed Medicare benefits,” according to an article in The Oregonian as part of Oregon PolitiFact. 
 
“In fact, spending on Medicare will actually increase over the next decade, reaching $845 billion in 2019, up from $499 billion in actual spending in 2009, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation. Without reform, Medicare spending in 2019 was projected to be $943 billion.”
 
In terms of fundraising, Schrader has raised close to $1.7 million to Bruun’s $1 million. The healthcare industry has stayed out of the race with any donations above $10,000 to either candidate except $11,000 from BlueCross/BlueShield to Schrader, his second largest contribution thus far.

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