Benishek talks tour, campaign and health
MANISTIQUE – Congressman Dan Benishek has wrapped up his “House calls with Dr. Dan” tour, and is back in Washington. Just as he concluded his tour, Benishek stopped in the Pioneer Tribune office to discuss his second year in Congress, as well as his current campaign.
According to Benishek, the recent tour was used to give him a better understanding of farmers, veterans’, and seniors, as well as their needs.
“(We are) just talking to people, prior to the election, make sure that we identify problems they are having,” he said. “We talk to them about Medicare, and the economy and people in small business.”
In particular, Benishek said seniors are concerned about Medicare and its viability. He noted that he and fellow Republicans have proposed a plan for Medicare.
“We have a plan to preserve Medicare for the long run,” he said. “It’s been distorted and it’s all this campaign stuff. I’m not really sure they understand that we want to keep Medicare the way it is for those people who are at retirement.”
For those younger than retirement age, the system will be revamped, this in order to ensure the Medicare “trust fund” will not run out of money within a decade, Benishek explained. As a doctor, Benishek said he has had plenty of experience in the medical field, and knows how important health care issues are. This, he explained, is the reason his recent campaign ad focuses on his experience as a doctor, rather than his past two years in Congress.
“I think that people realize the fact that health care is going to be a major issue going forward and I have a good understanding of that whole marketplace and that whole sector and it’s important to me and my patients and my constituents,” he said.
To Benishek, the problem with healthcare is “it costs too much.” He explained establishing a marketplace would ease the financial burden on individuals and families. While the Affordable Care Act, a law Benishek opposes and has voted to repeal, established an insurance marketplace in each state, he noted it doesn’t go far enough.
“It doesn’t make it easier to sell insurance in each state,” he said. “If you live in Michigan, you still can’t buy insurance in Wisconsin.”
When asked if amending the act, instead of attempting to repeal the entire law, would be a better solution, Benishek stated there are too many bad aspects of the act to correct. He noted also that he had read the entire act two years ago, but not the amendments made since.
In talking with business people during his most recent tour, as well as one prior, Benishek said he quickly discovered the economy and jobs are an important issue.
“Unemployment has been over eight percent for a long time. We need to get some movement in the economy,” he said. “People in small business tell me that there’s things going on that make it tough for them to do business … Regulations make it tough for them to do business.”
Over his first two years in Congress, Benishek said that he has made changes he is proud of – especially those made as part of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
“I think we’ve been pretty helpful in working on decreasing the wait that veterans have to get their benefits; increasing their access to the hospital,” he said. “I introduced some legislation that was going to, hopefully, decrease the backlog of claims to make it easier for guys to get their benefits.”
He also worked on a piece of forestry legislation that was eventually passed into law.
“It’s going to make it easier for loggers and people in the timber and wood industries to harvest our federal forests,” Benishek said.
Beyond that, he explained working in Congress has been a “learning experience.” One of his biggest frustrations centers on the House and Senate’s inability to compromise on many pieces of legislations – in particular, a budget.
“I’m looking forward to working with the Romney administration to get this economy moving,” he said. “We need to make it easier for people in small business to flourish and hire more people.”
For more information on Benishek and his voting record, he encouraged people to visit benishek. house.gov.