All of the candidates running in Indiana's 2nd District congressional race have complaints about the health care law the Supreme Court upheld last week.
They differ, though, on how they think lawmakers should react.
Republican Jackie Walorski firmly supports a full repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has become more widely known by its "Obamacare" nickname.
Walorski, a former state representative from Jimtown, said repeal would give Congress "an opportunity to bring a bipartisan group of people together and take a step-by-step approach" to reforming health care.
"Instead of doing it from the top down," she said, "you do it from the bottom up."
Democrat Brendan Mullen said he has deep concerns about the Affordable Care Act's costs and regulations, but he doesn't support a full repeal. He said the best route forward is to maintain the good parts of the law and work on repealing the bad parts.
"The highest court in the land has deemed it constitutional, so let's work together to fix the problems, keep the good and move forward as a country," said Mullen, a South Bend resident and Army veteran.
"Let's keep our eye on the ball," he said, "and focus on jobs and the state of the economy."
Walorski emphasized the law's cost, including a $525 million increase in taxes from 2010 through 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and a $311 billion increase in health care spending during the same period, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
She said those costs will raise premiums to a point where many small businesses will no longer provide health insurance. "It completely expands the uncertainty" for small businesses, she said. "It precludes them from hiring, it precludes them from spending a dime."
Both Mullen and Walorski said they've heard from business owners who are trying to avoid the 50-worker threshold at which they would be required to offer health insurance.
Mullen also talked about how the law's 2.3 percent tax on medical devices could hurt Indiana businesses in that industry. But, he added, the law has some good aspects: People can't be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or dropped from a policy because of a catastrophic event, and people can stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.
Third-party candidates vying for the 2nd District seat have other ideas.
Green Party candidate Andrew Straw said expanding Medicare to cover everyone would be a better alternative to the Affordable Care Act.
"Medicare takes the cost burden off businesses and workers have insurance portability," the Goshen lawyer said in an e-mail. "I wrote a bill to expand our national health insurance, Medicare, to cover everyone. It was 11 pages long."
Straw added that he would push to eliminate most personal injury torts and set up a national accident insurance system with automatic payments according to injury type. "Simple," he said, "no court and no lawyers needed."
Libertarian Joe Ruiz, a Mishawaka resident who works at the Family and Children's Center, said the best way to help people obtain health insurance is to lower the cost of coverage, not tax them if they don't have insurance.
Ruiz said market-based solutions, such as allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines, would lead to more competition for customers, lower prices and better options.
"I think the cost will be driven down remarkably when you introduce competition," he said.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: