Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth and Republican Vickie Yates Brown Glisson called for more bipartisanship during a candidate forum on Wednesday night, but differed starkly on issues like health care.
Yarmuth is running for his seventh term in Congress and has advocated for a single-payer style health care system that would provide government-sponsored coverage to all citizens.
“More than half the American people already have government-run health care, between Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration and TRICARE, which is active military personnel,” Yarmuth said. “So we’re already there. We know how to do that.”
Yarmuth said he’s not in favor of a single-payer proposal put forth by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying it “won’t work” because it’s “all the care that you need, anytime you want with no cost.”
Glisson was the secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services from 2016 until early this year.
She has been a critic of the Affordable Care Act, but on Wednesday said that Congress should try and “fix” it.
“I would propose that we fix ACA before we completely ditch it,” Glisson said. “On Medicare for All, that is a complete government takeover of health care, and I’ve never seen the government ever able to do or administer anything well.”
Glisson helped oversee Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempt to reshape Medicaid by requiring some recipients to pay monthly premiums and prove that they’re either working, studying or volunteering in order to keep their health benefits.
Yarmuth was first elected to the seat in 2006. In 2016, he was re-elected to his seat for a sixth consecutive term, defeating Republican Harold Bratcher by about 90,000 votes.
He is currently the ranking member on the House budget committee and if Democrats re-take control of the chamber this year he would likely become chair of the powerful panel.
The candidates also talked about potential policies to address recent mass shootings across the nation, including the shooting at Marshall County High School that took the lives of two 15 year-olds.
Yarmuth bragged about his “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, saying he supports universal background checks for gun purchases, limiting gun magazine capacity and banning people from the no-fly list from getting guns.
“Are we going to eliminate every murder in this country? God I wish we could, but there’s no way to do that. But every life saved is an important life saved and worth putting these minor restraints on law-abiding individuals,” Yarmuth said.
Glisson advocated for strengthening background checks and said altering privacy laws that prevent health providers from sharing identities of people they think might be dangerous.
“We need to amend those laws to be able to actual make a better exception for mental health,” Glisson said. “Right now, mental health is given a special kind of protection and it’s almost impossible to get that information. That’s why someone that has a need to know isn’t able to get that information and we need to make that part of a background check.”
The candidates also addressed immigration — an issue that was highlighted in Louisville over the summer in a series of protests of President Donald Trump’s policies that led to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border.
Glisson she opposes Trump’s child separation policy, that that she doesn’t support the president’s proposal of a physical wall across the southern border, but said that border security needs to be boosted and cities shouldn’t be allowed to adopt “sanctuary” immigration policies.
Yarmuth said he supports the 2013 policy proposed in Congress that would have given many undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship while adding border security.