8th District candidates take sides on health care
When it comes to defining the issues in this year's 8th Congressional District race, one would be well-advised to start a checklist. The issues are as divergent as the people in the district. Republican challenger Stewart Mills touts his eagernes...
When it comes to defining the issues in this year’s 8th Congressional District race, one would be well-advised to start a checklist.
The issues are as divergent as the people in the district.
Republican challenger Stewart Mills touts his eagerness to protect gun owners’ rights.
Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan wants to protect seniors’ Social Security and Medicare.
Green Party candidate Skip Sandman wants to protect Northeastern Minnesota’s water from precious metal mining.
That’s a lot to protect. But one issue on which they all converge is the Affordable Care Act.
The 2010 law championed by President Barack Obama is a talking point in each campaign.
In interviews with the candidates, each addressed the issue without prompting. Nolan was angry that Mills would do away with the law, while Mills was angry it even exists. Sandman? He’s angry that it’s not living up to its name “affordable.”
“I believe in Obamacare,” Sandman said. “Everybody should have insurance of some type. But I want to make sure when they say affordable, they mean it. You have a mother with three children, it’s not affordable. Even the basic plans are $200 or $300 per child.”
Nolan acknowledged imperfections in the law.
“Is the act perfect? No. Nothing ever is,” said Nolan, who said he appreciates that the law provides care for people with preexisting conditions, helps keep children on their parents’ plans through college, removes caps on amounts insurance companies have to pay and keeps medications cost-effective for the elderly, among a host of other merits he lists.
“There’s nothing in there that he wants,” Nolan said of Mills. “Somebody like me, it’s all good stuff. I’m all for it - 100 percent. Every one of those things.”
Mills wants nothing to do with the law. He said that, if elected to Congress, he’d work to repeal it and start health care reform anew.
“Obamacare is overwhelmingly unpopular in this part of northern Minnesota,” he said from outside his office in Brainerd. “Rick Nolan takes it even further because he thinks Obamacare is a great first step to government in every single affair.”
Mills called for a solution he said is “consumerist” and “patient-centered,” and not “socialistic in nature with government pulling the levers for one-sixth of our economy.”
With the Affordable Care Act, Nolan and Mills clash along the same fault lines as their parties.
“Just do away with government and everybody’d be fine,” Nolan said sarcastically as a way of rebuking Mills’ talk about socialism.
Then he said something that all the candidates can agree upon.
“Campaigns are about attitude,” Nolan said.
On the Affordable Care Act, Nolan is defiantly optimistic. Mills defiantly objects to it. Sandman splits the difference.
In the Nov. 4 election, Nolan is seeking his second term representing the 8th District, having previously served as a congressman from the 6th District from 1975-81. Mills is vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, a family-owned company with 35 retail stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Both candidates reside in the Brainerd Lakes area. Sandman is a Vietnam veteran who lives in Duluth and works as a cultural adviser in a treatment center.