Massie says choosing to not have health care is 'a right' and access to care isn't government's responsibility

08/15/2012 06:15 PM

Even with Kentucky scoring low in many health categories, 4th District Republican congressional candidate Thomas Massie said the Affordable Care Act isn’t the answer to improve access to health care for Kentuckians.

Massie, the former Lewis County judge-executive who won the May Republican primary for the 4th District, said he disagrees with the concept of requiring everyone to have health coverage — which is meant to make it difficult for insurance companies to avoid covering those who have pre-existing conditions.

But Massie said it’s “a right that we have whether we want to buy it or not.”

“Some people do not buy health insurance by choice. Contrary to what the liberals think, I don’t think they can be force to buy health insurance. In my version of things there will always be people who don’t buy health insurance,” Massie said (10:45).

Kentucky, however, scores low on many health rankings: 49th in the nation in smoking, 46th in obesity rate; 38th in rate of diabetes; 43rd in cardiovascular deaths per 100,000 people; and 50th in cancer deaths per 100,000 people, according to Americashealthrankings.org

Massie said private companies do a lot better than the government-funded Medicaid program in preventative care. When asked how more Kentuckians could get that care if they can’t afford or are denied access to private insurers, Massie said: “It’s not going to happen by having the government take over it,” Massie said. (12:00)

Overall, Massie said he supports part of the budget plan offered by Paul Ryan, the House Budget Chairman and Republican vice presidential candidate. And he said he wants to see a wholesale change in the health care system.

“Our health care system — the analogy to computers is that it’s operating on Windows 1945,” he said (2:15). After World War II, companies began offering health insurance as an incentive to attract employees, which Massie said had “unintended consequences.”

“The alternative is to get more choice in there, to get consumer choice, and also to start shopping again (and) for consumers to know what they’re paying. It’s hard to know when you go in for a procedure what you’re paying for,” he said. (3:30)

Massie said he’d like to see more people purchase health care early in life before they develop a chronic condition, similar to how people buy term life insurance.

“I don’t think you need a mandate if you get the government out of the way,” he said.

In the second part of the interview, Massie answered questions about government’s role in spurring industry and when he’ll be debating his Democratic opponent, Bill Adkins.

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