Congressional hopeful Peters says health-insurance companies push prices up

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NICK ROHLMAN

Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan Republican 2nd District candidate Chris Peters speaks to the local Young Americans for Liberty on Thursday. The group is a libertarian organization at the UI. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Molly Hunter, [email protected]

Republican Congressional candidate Chris Peters said insurance companies’ role in the health-care industry must be addressed in order to lower costs in an event Thursday evening on the University of Iowa campus.

Peters is running against incumbent Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, in the 2018 general election for Iowa’s 2nd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was hosted by Young Americans for Liberty at the UI and spoke in Schaeffer Hall.

Peters, a veteran, surgeon, and business owner of Corridor Vein Center in Coralville, said the problems with health care aren’t limited to the Affordable Care Act, so repeal and replace won’t solve the underlying issues. At the same time, he doesn’t believe Medicare for all is politically viable.

“I think there are options in the middle,” Peters said.

The biggest issue lies with the third-party payer model in which insurance companies are involved in the transactions between individuals and health-care providers, he said. His “middle-of-the-road” solution would address the way insurance providers participate in the health-care industry in an attempt to bring prices down.

“If you came into my clinic, and you needed something done, and we didn’t have insurance involved, and this happened millions of times all over the country, prices and quality would be set as the net result of millions of interactions nationwide,” Peters said.

RELATED: Peters officially set to face Loebsack

When health-insurance companies are introduced, Peters said, the first thing they do is increase prices, at least a little.

“Now, rather than you and I exchanging a good or service for money, we’re now also having to pay some degree of overhead for that insurance company,” he said.

By downsizing the role insurance companies play in the health-care industry, Peters hopes to lower the costs of care to more acceptable levels.

Andrew Bartholomew, a sophomore political-science major from Kirksville, Missouri, and a member of Young Americans for Liberty at the UI, said Peters’ solution takes the needs of rural Iowans into consideration.

“A concern [Peters] hears a lot is about rural hospitals and rural health-care solutions,” Bartholomew said. “And I think when we’re talking about Iowa as a whole, that’s the issue we’re seeing.”

Medica is the only individual health-care insurer that will be left in Iowa by 2018, but to maintain its market in the state, it has announced potential rate increases upwards of 40 percent.

Bartholomew said most states losing providers in this way are either very rural or have governments that are heavily involved in the insurance market.

RELATED: Agreeing to agree, sometimes

The 2018 race won’t be the first time Peters will face Loebsack. Peters also ran against Loebsack in the November 2016 general election for the 2nd District, where he lost.

“There are strong blue parts of this district, but as an index rating, we are as blue as the 1st and slightly more blue than the 3rd, both of which have a Republican representative,” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew said the 2016 race was Peters’ first campaign and an informal one at that.

“In comparison this has been … more than twice as long and will include people from outside the state [as] consultants,” Bartholomew said.

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