Congressional candidates queried on Social Security, ACA

Last week we shared responses received to some of the questions our Chamber of Maui Political

Action Committee asked of candidates running in races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House 2nd District. We began with the issues of our national debt and economic health and continue here with the Affordable Care Act and Social Security. This was originally meant to be a two-part series, but will now instead conclude next week with a third installment.

Affordable Care Act

The question was: Given what we have seen about the costs and challenges of the Affordable Care Act and how it has impacted Hawaii, do you support continuing the Affordable Care Act? Do you feel it is still right for Hawaii given our Prepaid Health Care Act? Please explain why you do or do not support it and what you would do about it.

Responses included:

* Against the ACA as Hawaii already had prepaid health care and has a shortage of doctors. Fewer doctors are entering the profession due to increased regulation and liability with this act. Says there should be no ACA and supports a free-market approach.

* Will do everything possible to repeal it. This is a complete overstep of authority that is against personal choice. Many did not get to keep their doctor and did not see lower rates as promised. It is bull and the biggest failure.

* Candidate lost two doctors due to ACA and says our system was working fine before. However, says we should include homeopathic and chiropractic and that pre-existing conditions should also be allowed.

* The ACA has brought a lot of burden and increased debt. It needs to go! It has been completely wrong for Hawaii and must be addressed.

* Hawaii has been on the leading edge with 90 percent of people covered. Would have preferred that we tweaked our system instead of going to federal oversight. The system should be run in Hawaii.

* Said it has been a debacle from healthcare.gov down to Hawaii’s Health Connector. We had very few to insure, but spent a great deal on the system and would have been better off using the money to provide free services. Where ACA can add value is subsidies for small businesses. However, prepaid health care should have been top of the food chain. Now we need the Hawaii Health Connector to stop spending federal money while they reorganize.

Social Security

The question was: Where do you stand on Social Security and do you see a solvency issue? Here, all candidates agreed that we must honor our promises and look at changes, but opinions varied when it came to reform.

Responses included:

* Must honor promises, but not make bad promises that will hurt future generations. Supports an “opt out” system where people can opt out of Social Security and save their money on their own. Congress is 20 years behind what the people really want.

* Does not believe Social Security will last beyond 2030. Says it must be dealt with and that we must reduce the amounts paid out. It will be a long transition that will take 15-20 years to make it fair to those paying in.

* Stop giving funds to other countries and put it in to Social Security. We must stop raiding Social Security. People need to get the dollars paid in back.

* Supports Social Security as people rely on it and we must keep it going. However, maybe we should look at privatizing it and keep it separate and not raid it. Says it can remain solvent with protections and protocols.

* Social Security can work, but we must make it work as life expectancy has significantly changed since it was enacted. We must tweak it to gradually change it and stretch it out for future generations.

* There are government programs that are not well run, but this is an efficient system that reduces poverty among seniors. The money is not wasted. It has structural deficits as it takes in less than it is paying out, but if we lifted the tax on capital earnings, we can save it through 2075. Says more revenue is needed to keep it in place and add benefits, but that it is not broken and not about to be broken.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment on immigration reform and gridlock in Washington, D.C.

* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.