Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Saturday, October 22, 2016

By John Frank, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

RALEIGH, NC — Clay Aiken said the federal health care law is deficient and doesn’t go far enough to address rising health care costs.

The former ‘American Idol’ contestant’s remarks came Thursday as he filed papers to get on the 2014 ballot in the 2nd Congressional District in North Carolina, a seat held now by Republican Renee Ellmers.

In tackling the health care question confronting all Democratic candidates this election year, Aiken sought middle ground: criticizing it as he defended it.

“I don’t think that it’s completely perfect,” he said. “I think there are a whole bunch of things that should be fixed and rough edges that should be smoothed out. I think that’s a problem that Democrats in general have, an inability to recognize the fact that a lot of people do have problems with that particular law. There are a lot of people who have a lot of problems with a lot of parts of it.”

He pivoted to add: “That said, the number of things that are positive about the law, we don’t talk about enough. There are parts of it, like doctors not being able to be paid to prescribe you a particular medication, like hospitals now having to tell you what they are charging you for and how much they are charging you for. A lot of parts we don’t talk about enough that I think need to get more light on them.”

The deficiencies, he said, “can be addressed without throwing out some really, really important protections for people.”

Asked what he’d fix, he added this: “I think you can take a look at the ratio between the most coverage and the least coverage. It’s at 3 to 1 now, and I think we can probably address that disparity so that we can make health care less expensive for certain people. I think that there are certainly ways that we need to continue to address rising health care costs, and I don’t think that this law goes far enough to address skyrocketing health care costs in general.”

Aiken did not get more specific. Ellmers is a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, repeatedly supporting measures to defund and repeal it.

The Democratic primary to challenge her includes three candidates: Aiken, Keith Crisco and Toni Morris. Ellmers faces a primary challenge from Republican Frank Roche.

Aiken’s mother, Faye Parker, and a few of his former teachers joined him at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh for the filing. Aiken plans to make education a key part of his campaign.

Asked whether she ever imagined her son would run for Congress, Parker said no. “Every parent says their child is going to be president one day,” she said. “I used to tell him use your voice, but I don’t think this is what I was thinking. But he is using his voice.”

Aiken appeared casual and at ease. Reporters called him by his first name. Standing behind a podium to answer questions, he quipped “I feel like a politician now.”

Photo: UNICEF up close via Flickr

  • Independent1

    Aiken needs to tone down the negative rehetoric on Obamacare and give the legislation time to work. Over the past three plus years, ACA has slowed the rise in medicare costs and insurance premiums to the slowest levels in 50 years. And that’s even before the portion of ACA which should really reduce healthcare costs became effective this year, with the requirement that more people be covered by health insurance.

    A great deal of what was driving the increase in healthcare costs, beyond pure greed, was more and more people going without insurance and hitting the ER for their medical care; care which many times they couldn’t afford to pay for. So with hospitals, doctors, labs, what have you, having to treat patients who couldn’t pay sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for the care they received, prices were driven up. Now that less and less people should be needing healthcare they can’t pay for due to the lack of insurance, healthcare fees charged by healthcare providers should start coming down as their need to pad their costs for those who can’t pay diminishes.

    What I’m not certain of, is if there is actually something in the ACA legislation that insures that providers do in fact start reducing their bills as they are hit by fewer people who cannot pay for the care they get; hopefully there is; But in any case, Aiken needs to hold his horses and let the legislation do what it was designed to do and stop being such a naysayer.

    • elw

      Aiken needs to make sure he know what he is talking about before he talks. Doctors and Hospitals have had to provide a line-by-line account for what they charge people for decades, so why he is thanking the ACA is beyond me. I am sure his heart is in the right place but he will make a fool of himself before he even starts if he does not do his homework. I do not think anyone who supports the ACA thinks it does not need improvements, we all know it does and will continue to need them as long as it exists, after all Medicare is still being adjusted on a regular basis. None of that take away the wonderful achievement it is and the fact that it is already helping millions of hard working Americans.

      • Independent1

        Exactly!! Which is why Democratic candidates need to stop being naysayers about ACA; instead, as you point out, they should extolling all the great things about it to counteract all the GOP negatives. If they can get themselves elected, then they can work to pass improvements to it. They need to absolutely stop helping their GOP opponents get re-elected by supporting some of even their own potential constituents’ apprehensions about ACA. When are some Democrat politicians going to wake up???

        • elw

          I just wish they would all stop pretending and be who they are. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone who was running for office would just stop playing words games and just say what they stand for loud and clear. If nothing else the Tea Party is loud and clear about what they stand for, even when they are trying to hide it. So at least when I refuse to give them my vote I know exactly why. With people like Aiken it is just plain hard to tell what they actually stand for and if they are worth my vote. I would much rather choose my candidate by how much I agree with their stand on issues rather than who seems the lesser of two evils.

  • charles king

    Aiken should introduce the people to (Critical Thinking) and with his singing ability he could sell Obamacare to the Black Carolinians cause Obamacare works, and Mediic-care and with Social-Security he could win the senior voters cause they know these three policies Work. What? the hell is going on in America. Why? would a Republican deny an American citizen Obamacare. Who? are these Republican Rep. in congress Not doing their job with this kind of critical thinking I think Aikens’ could win that seat. I say give it a try you are already known to the public. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. The VOTE and your Democracy is still supreme. MR. C. E. KING

  • elw

    Aiken needs to think before he talks. The ACA has been the best we have done on the quest for a single-payer system since Medicare was passed fifty years ago. Imperfect yes, but one big step forward. He would be better off taking a big stand for “improve and expand” than trying to spread himself down the middle.