The forum was sponsored by the Pickens County Republican Party and was moderated by state GOP chairwoman Karen Floyd.
Attorney Neal Collins, businessman Richard Cash, Rep. Rex Rice, Dr. Mike Vasovski, businessman Joe Grimaud and Rep. Jeff Duncan all agreed that they would vote to defund the massive healthcare overhaul passed by Congress earlier this year.
The third district hopefuls were asked what they would do to make healthcare more affordable for businesses and individuals
Duncan said free market principles and competition would drive the price down.
“We can let the federal government drop the state borders and let insurance companies offer more plans in South Carolina,” he said.
Individuals should be able to receive a dollar for dollar tax credit for health care, he said.
Collins said that individuals should receive the same tax deductions employers receive.
The government’s involvement has driven healthcare costs up, he said.
Tort reform is also needed, Collins said.
“Our doctors are practicing defensive medicine and that does increase our costs of health care, he said.
Cash said healthcare is a personal responsibility, not the government’s.
“The government needs to stay out of health care,” he said. “It’s not the government’s job to make it affordable.”
Attaching healthcare plans to employment has caused many of the problems with the system, including rising costs.
“We have to a long-term movement toward making health care portable, where it follows the person and not the job,” Cash said.
Vasovski said that under the “certificate of need rule” doctors and hospitals have to apply to the state to get permission to provide a new service.
“That is not free market, folks,” he said. “That is government telling us what we can and can’t do. If I want to put a $1 million CAT scan machine in my office, I should be allowed to do so.”
Rice said that small businesses should be given tax credits for assisting people that are low-income to offset that cost of health insurance.
“That would help them afford it,” he said.
Grimaud agreed that tort reform is needed
“We need a cap on medical payments, so that when someone does sue, and there is a jury award, there is a maximum that they would pay,” he said. “The first thing we need to do is get rid of Obamacare.”
Candidates were asked how they would make South Carolina a boon to industry and keep the state’s manufacturing base.
Duncan said that the country’s tax and regulatory policies have pushed countries overseas.
“We got to change the way we tax individuals, the way we take corporations … free up money for investment …so more businesses will stay here and create jobs” he said.
Grimaud said the fair tax “is the fair way to go.”
“When you go to the fair tax, the United States will become the largest tax haven in the world,” he said. “Industry would be running over each other to get back into this country, and jobs would come back along with it.”
As a small businessman, Rice said he’s familiar with audits — “the one thing the federal government’s done to me.”
“It’s time to turn that around and audit the federal government and take the burden off the small businesspeople and change our tax code,” Rice said. “In 1913, we passed an amendment allowing an income tax. By the year 2013 we need to get rid of it and put in the fair tax.”
Vasovski said that unions are to blame for the manufacturing’s erosion.
“The unions are part and parcel of the Democratic Party and the Socialist system they’re trying to instill on us.”
“I’m for free trade, but I’m also for fair trade,” Collins said, adding that worker’s compensation issues have also led to companies, such as textile and furniture companies, leaving for other shores.
“And once one company leaves, every company leaves,” Collins said.
It’s not desirable for essential items our military needs for national defense to be produced overseas, Cash said.