Meyer, Waechter spar over health care

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Gary Waechter, of Fort Dodge, left, fields a question regarding health care during a Webster County Republican House District 9 primary debate Tuesday night at the Trolley Center in Fort Dodge. Ann Meyer, of Fort Dodge, looks on. Waechter and Meyer are seeking the Republican nomination in House District 9. More than 50 people attended.

Different approaches to health care problems were outlined Tuesday evening by a nurse and an advocate of natural remedies who are seeking the Republican nomination for a state House district that includes Fort Dodge.

Ann Meyer, a nurse and nursing instructor, said she’s in favor of vaccines and supports the use of prescription drugs to treat mental illnesses.

Meyer said she’s critical of the privatized Medicaid system now in use in Iowa.

She said she would not support an abortion ban that does not include exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

Gary Waechter said he’s opposed to vaccines and the use of prescription drugs to help the mentally ill.

He said he likes the idea of privatized Medicaid. He said he would support a complete ban on abortion.

Meyer and Waechter are seeking to represent House District 9, which includes Badger, Clare, Duncombe, Fort Dodge, Vincent and rural areas of northern Webster County.

The winner of the June 5 Republican primary will face Democrat Megan Srinivas in the November general election.

State Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, now holds the House District 9 seat, but she will retire when her term expires at the end of this year.

Meyer and Waechter answered questions during a Tuesday evening forum at the Webster County Republican Party headquarters, 900 Central Ave. About 60 people attended.

The first question the candidates answered was about health care, and health care was a recurrent theme of the hourlong forum.

“Our health care is in a pretty serious situation,” Waechter said. “What I would do is open it up to anyone with experience. I want to open it up to the people who are doing good work and let them find solutions.”

Meyer said there are two essential problems: access to care and cost.

She said that health care is one of the few services people pay for without knowing upfront what it will cost.

“We need to make health care decisions transparent,” she said.

“There are some creative solutions out there,” she added.

She said that tort reform that would reduce malpractice insurance costs will help to control the cost of medicine.

“A lot of physicians practice defensive medicine so they order a lot of tests to prove that what they’re doing is the right thing,” Meyer said.

All those tests result in higher bills for patients, she said.

She added that the use of older, proven medicines as opposed to newer, more expensive ones can also help control costs.

Abortion

Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed into a law a measure banning most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

“With passage of the heartbeat bill, I was ecstatic,” Waechter said.

“Life is the No. 1 thing that our Constitution protects,” he added.

Meyer said she supports the new law. She noted that it includes exceptions for victims of rape, incest and for situations in which the baby could not survive outside the womb.

When another member of the audience asked the candidates if they would support an abortion ban with no exceptions, Waechter replied, “absolutely.”

Meyer said she would not support an abortion ban that does not include exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

“I don’t feel like I, or anyone else, has the right to make that choice for that victim,” she said.

Meyer’s answer received some applause from the audience.

Vaccines

Meyer said she is in favor of immunizations.

“I believe vaccines are for the greater good,” she said.

She said complications resulting from vaccines are “few and far between.”

Waechter said he knows of a child who had to be placed on a ventilator because of vaccine complications. He added that he knows of a woman paralyzed from the chest down because of a vaccine.

“Vaccines, if you want to take them, fine, but there are lots of dangers,” he said. “We need to compare risks versus dangers.”

Waechter said he is in favor of natural preventive medicine, which he said consists of eating right, exercising and taking vitamins. He said he believes most diseases are caused by a lack of minerals in the body.

Late in the forum, Dr. Lincoln Wallace, a Fort Dodge physician, asked Waechter to explain the natural supplements he claimed to use to help people with chronic illnesses.

“What kind of education do you want?” Waechter replied. “What you need to do is get into the field and talk to the people.”

He then said it was illegal for “alternative care people” such as himself to talk about what they do.

When asked if it was a federal or state law that prohibited him from speaking, Waechter replied, “I don’t know where it’s in.”

Medicaid

Medicaid is the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor and disabled. About three years ago, former Gov. Terry Branstad hired managed care organizations to run Iowa’s Medicaid program. It was a controversial move criticized by even Republican lawmakers.

Waechter said he likes the idea of privatized Medicaid.

“I think it was done with good thoughts, but it hasn’t worked,” Meyer said.

She said the managed care organizations are in need of oversight.

She said health care providers aren’t getting paid by the managed care organizations unless legislators pressure them.

“It’s a contract, but it was broken,” she said of privatized Medicaid.

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