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Goddard Mayor Gregory makes health-care case to Rep. Pompeo

Rep. Mike Pompeo addresses a small group at Gerrard's Restaurant in Goddard. Goddard Mayor Marcey Gregory, second from right, pressed Pompeo over the national health care law that he's vowed to work to repeal.Saying she had benefited as both a small-business owner and a mother, Goddard Mayor Marcey Gregory today pressed Rep. Mike Pompeo to change his view that Congress should completely repeal the national health care law.

Pompeo didn’t back off from his long-held stance that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — which he and other Republicans derisively call “Obamacare” — should be repealed in its entirety.

He did, however, express some support for safeguards against insurance companies denying people coverage.

The exchange took place at Gerrard’s Restaurant in Goddard, where Pompeo made a whistle stop as part of a three-day campaign kickoff swing through the 4th District.

Pompeo timed the kickoff tour to coincide with the one-year-anniversary of his 2010 election when a Republican wave — spurred in part by voter unrest over the health-care law — returned control of the House to the GOP.

Gregory, who has run for state Legislature and Sedgwick County Commission as a Democrat, told Pompeo that her business — the First Gear running store in Wichita Old Town — has benefited from employer tax credits in the Affordable Care Act.

“In my business, we pay 100 percent of the premiums of all of our employees,” Gregory said. “And this is the first time we’ve ever gotten tax credit for doing that.”

She also said she’s taken advantage of a provision allowing parents to cover their children until age 26.

“I’ve got a 23-year-old son that I’m able to keep on my health-insurance policy,” she said. “So I think there are good portions of it that we need to be able to hold on to and maybe just discard the bad.”

Pompeo conceded there are “laudable goals” in the bill, but added “I can’t imagine keeping any of it.”

He said the only goal of federal policy should be “to provide good value for patients. That means high quality care, access to care and an affordable price. This legislation doesn’t do any of those three things.”

Pompeo noted that much of the health-care law has yet to take effect, including mandatory coverage and health exchanges where people could comparison shop for their insurance.

“I couldn’t tell you about your business, but when I talk to most small-business people, it is very clear that by 2014 they will abandon their employer health-care plans,” Pompeo told Gregory. “They will pay the penalty so their employees can then participate in what will be either the Kansas health exchange or a Kansas health exchange run by the federal government.”

“Second, it doesn’t do anything to attack cost,” he added. “Indeed it goes backwards. It tries to centralize decision making for health care. And when you try to address health care through … centralized price controls, cost goes up.”

Pompeo said the ideas of allowing parents to insure their children to age 26 and prohibiting insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions make sense.

“But you have to go do them in the context of creating competition in the health-care sector and this plan doesn’t do it,” he said.

After the event, Gregory said she wasn’t convinced.

“I think it’s very interesting that it was originally a Republican idea that ad gotten tweaked,” she said of the health-care plan.”I think I agree with part of his statement that there are some good ideas in that plan and some bad ideas, but just throwing the whole thing away is not my answer to it and I would hope that that was not his either.”

The event — held in mid-afternoon during a downpour — was lightly attended with only about a half-dozen people there who are not directly affiliated with the campaign.

A larger rally is planned for 9 a.m. Tuesday at Col. James Jabara Airport in Wichita