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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Only 1 candidate attends health forum

August 30, 2006

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A would-be health care debate was whittled down to basically a one-candidate question-and-answer session Tuesday at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Nancy Boyda, who is running for the Kansas 2nd District congressional seat, was the only candidate to show, disappointing dozens at the hospital hoping to hear health care perspectives from all four local congressional candidates.

Republican Rep. Jim Ryun, the 2nd District incumbent, and Chuck Ahner, Republican 3rd District candidate, couldn't attend the event.

"No one is more disappointed than our group," said David Goering, an organizer with the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kansas HealthCare For All that was host for the event.

Boyda was joined by state Sen. Marci Francisco, a Lawrence Democrat, who attended for 3rd District Rep. Dennis Moore.

Boyda explained to those in the nearly full Lawrence Memorial Hospital Auditorium how she would shape national health care if given the opportunity.

To reshape an expensive and often dysfunctional national health care system, Boyda said, would take more than just local and national patches such as Medicare Part D.

Rather, it would take a Congress willing to work together to make health care affordable for all Americans on a larger scale, she said.

All of this, Boyda said, needs to be done in the next 18-24 months - a time frame she repeated several times that would coincide with the months leading up to a change in the presidency.

But what exactly would need to change in that time? And how should the government go about making that change?

"I would love to stand before you and say I have the answer, but I don't," Boyda said.

Boyda was clear that the answer to providing all Americans with affordable or free health care shouldn't come solely from federal dollars. That kind of program wouldn't offer people enough choices in health care, she said.

When asked where the funding for universal health care might come from, she responded that there were several solutions, but she wouldn't approve of any particular one.

"There are all different forms of universal health care," Boyda said.

Boyda also addressed other topics - most stemming from audience questions - including the high cost of prescription drugs, the importance of mental health care and whether the U.S. should allow drugs to be imported from Canada.

On the imported drug question, Boyda said she imagined it would be impossible to regulate.

Francisco spoke in place of Moore, adding to several of the topics and answering questions from the audience and moderator Michael Fox, a professor at the Kansas University Medical Center and president of the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition.

Moore also submitted prewritten answers to questions. Those emphasized his belief in strengthening the nation's current health care system and combining several medical practices into a comprehensive health care program.

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