By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
Healthcare is the center focus of candidate Christopher Peters? campaign for the 2018 congressional election.
The Coralville physician met with Mt. Pleasant residents at Hy-Vee in Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, May 26 for a meet-and-greet, discussing health care costs, mental health, Veterans Affairs and touching on immigration reform and the gun control debate. Peters is running to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack in Iowa?s 2nd District.
Healthcare reform is the single most important thing that can be done to boost economic prosperity in the U.S., Peters preached. ?It?s a huge drain on resources unnecessarily,? he said.
Peters (R-Coralville) parses out health care in three ways, which he calls the ?ABC??s ? access, benefit and cost. Access is the ability to get the services needed, so for people who live in rural communities that can?t attract a physician, there?s a loss of access there, Peters said.
Benefit, on the other hand, is the quality of care. Someone can get care that is high in quality but unnecessary. The biggest issue in health care for Peters, however, is cost.
Peters believes the answer to curbing health care costs is a ?uniquely American direction.? This includes empowering people to make better health care decisions, savings to meet health care needs and restoring a proper model for health insurance.
In Peters? office, the most common question he gets from patients is ?Does my insurance cover this?? when it should be ?How much does this cost??
?If people aren?t concerned about the cost, they will continue to rise,? Peters said.
Continuing in line with the health care conversation, Peters wants to see mental health reform, but believes it will be best done at the state, county and municipal levels. While he supports federal dollars going to states to fund mental health reform, he thinks it will be best administered at the local level.
?Iowa generally is doing pretty well on a state basis ranking (for mental health), except for the number of inpatient beds,? Peters said. ?But we as a nation are pretty bad, so it?s kind of the least ugly in a beauty contest as far as mental health care.
?It?s unavoidable,? he continued. ?We?re going to need to put more money into that.?
Finally in Peters? health care agenda, he wants to see Veteran?s Associations hospitals revamped.
Having done much of his medical practice training at VA hospitals and as a former military doctor, Peters said he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. VA hospitals take the model of army medicine and transfer it to the veteran system. While that works on military bases and for people stationed overseas, access to a VA hospital is unrealistic once someone is out of the service and living anywhere in the U.S.
With the ?really excellent? care found at local hospitals, Peters wants veterans to frequent local hospitals for their routine needs such as gallbladder removal, getting their eyes checked or refilling their prescriptions.
?Veteran?s hospitals are trying to do that through their VA Choice, but they are not working all that well,? Peters said.
Instead, Peters would like to see VA hospitals become ?centers of excellence? for treating veteran-specific health problems such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression or amputations. Peters argues that the VA mission, to provide everything for all veterans, is too broad.
Following his discussion of health care, Peters briefly touched on immigration and gun control.
Peters said he likes the idea of a merit-based immigration system, with people coming to the U.S. who have knowledge, skills and trades that are needed here. He also believes a path for permanent residents needs to be found for DACA recipients, the people who have attended community schools and now own local businesses and contribute to their communities.
On the other hand, ?People who came here illegally committing crimes, I have no problem deporting them,? Peters said. ?People living here living productive lives, particularly those who came here illegally but now have children who are, by nature of their birth, American citizens ? breaking up families, most Americans don?t want to see that.?
When it comes to gun control, Peters said he is a veteran, a gun-owner and a strong Second Amendment supporter. He is also a parent.
?The prospect of someone shooting at a school still concerns me, as it would for any parent,? Peters said, adding that the root cause of the problem needs to be addressed.
For Peters, that root cause is interlinked with the rising opioid epidemic and declining marriages. ?We just don?t feel as connected to our communities. We lack empathy for fellow humans,? he said.
Peters? solution is on an individual basis ? people smiling at each other, knowing their neighbors, volunteering in their communities, finding mentorship opportunities and overall spending less time looking down at their phones.