AK: Interview with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell – Part 2

Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell

Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell

Mead Treadwell is Alaska’s lieutenant governor and a candidate in the Republican primary to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in November.

State of Reform’s DJ Wilson interviewed Treadwell in early February about his life and career, his views on Obamacare, Medicaid and mental health care, and his campaign in one of the most closely watched Senate races this year.

In part one of this four-part interview, Treadwell discusses turning points in his life and career.

Here, in part two, Treadwell explains why he thinks the Affordable Care Act should be repealed.

In part three, Treadwell discusses Medicaid expansion under the ACA and mental health care.

In part four, Treadwell talks about his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

DJ:  How do you see Obamacare as an issue in the election?

First off, I believe that Obamacare is really the height of arrogance.  The height of arrogance was that they didn’t allow any amendments in the House or in the Senate, in the ways that Republicans wanted to fix it.  Two, it was kind of an arrogant approach that the government knows what’s best for you.  It’s an arrogant approach to tell people that their own individual savings aren’t important and that plans they’ve worked hard for to get need to be taxed as Cadillac plans.  It was arrogance in the idea that treated doctors as utilities, arrogance in the way that told the commercial insurance industry that they couldn’t do the job of even selling, that they had to compete in government-owned exchanges to sell in the commercial sector.

It was the largest tax increase put before the American people and one of the biggest insults.

There are several different promises that they made that they just couldn’t keep—that you could keep your plan, that you could keep your doctor, and that you could continue to have choice.  A big government program doesn’t let you do that.  We know this with other big government programs—over time you get less choice, not more choice.

I think that’s why close to 60 percent of Alaskans feel that Obamacare needs to be repealed.  That’s why I feel it needs to be repealed.  That’s why people are very upset with [U.S. Sen.] Mark Begich.  I talk to groups of doctors who said he wasn’t listening to their problems when he was voting on this.  He was the 60th vote, the vote that they needed in the Senate to make it happen. And to me, it’s the height of governmental arrogance.

We’ve asked as a state for discretion on the way that we apply this law to make sure that people are covered.  We’ve been told no—no exceptions and no discretion there.

They’ve set up a system which I think is aimed toward a government-centralized single payer system, ultimately, where they’ve uncovered more people than they have covered.  They’ve set up incentives for companies to quit covering employee health care.  And they’ve done just the opposite of where I think we should be going in the country, which is encouraging savings and self-reliance.

DJ: Now that we’ve seen how badly the federal government has implemented exchanges in states like Alaska, do you think, moving forward, the state of Alaska should open its own insurance exchange so it can manage this project on its own?

No, I don’t see a benefit to that.  The only group it’s going to benefit are friends I have in the IT community who would have a job inventing something new.  I wouldn’t suggest the governor change course on that.

DJ:  Do you think Senator Begich might respond, not to the exchange issue, but to the repeal question generally?

Actually, he’s attacked me on the exchange issue, just be aware of that.

DJ:  Oh, really?

Yeah.  It was at a meeting of the Alaska Miners Association that he basically said he was disgusted with the fact that the state didn’t participate in the exchanges.

DJ:  How do you respond to the line of argument that full repeal would limit some of those benefits that people now enjoy, like protection from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions?

I’d say repeal, or repeal and replace.  There are very definite parts of Obamacare that people like.  I know many people like the 26-year-old issue, or the issue of getting insurance when you’ve got a pre-existing condition.  We went through a period where we stayed on COBRA rather than going to a new company plan when my wife was pregnant.

That’s a problem that we can try to address and try to address in the incentives.  That we’re going to put everyone in a government-mandated, rigidly controlled set of health plans to me doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I’m much more interested in something, maybe like flood insurance, that says we’ll cover the catastrophes.  When somebody is in a situation where you just can’t move because it’s a lifelong condition or a very expensive condition, that’s when the government can do something.  The idea of wholesale takeover and the expansions of Medicaid, when you really should be encouraging people with incentives to fend for themselves, is to me, again, the height of government arrogance.

If you’d like to read more, part one covers turning points in Treadwell’s life and career.

In part three, Treadwell discusses Medicaid expansion under the ACA and mental health care.

In part four, Treadwell talks about his campaign for the U.S. Senate.