COVID-19 testing assistance is among the items Congress is debating in new stimulus proposals. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The candidates for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District offer vastly different prescriptions for managing the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the nation’s health care system.
Republican Randy Feenstra has emphasized the importance of keeping the economy open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several meatpacking plants in northwest Iowa endured outbreaks of the virus earlier this year, including a Tyson pork processing plant that reported more than 500 cases in Buena Vista County, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
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Amid plant closures and meat shortages, President Donald Trump issued an executive order granting the Department of Agriculture the authority to force them to stay open in April.
While Feenstra did not directly answer a question asking if he supported Trump’s order, Feenstra said he believes the plants took the proper measures to stay open. Moving forward, he said he wants Congress to ensure workers have adequate personal protection equipment to continue their jobs.
“When it becomes catastrophic, it shows you how tight that supply chain is,” Feenstra said. “You can’t have that. We have to make sure we’re protecting these workers.”
Scholten also said there’s a need to ensure PPE for Iowa’s vulnerable workers, but he has stopped short of supporting a national mask mandate, like some other Democrats in the country. Instead, Scholten said the first step is expanding COVID-19 testing.
He said he supports the federal government creating a national plan and said Trump need to set an example for the country by wearing a mask.
“If we’re going to be indoors, let’s have that guideline,” Scholten said. “It gets back to national leadership.”
The Affordable Care Act remains a central issue, especially as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide soon after the election whether to preserve or scrap the program. Feenstra has emphasized a desire to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions while scrapping the law that requires insurance companies to cover people for those illnesses without charging them more.
Scholten has said his “long-term vision” is a government single-payer health care plan like Medicare for all. But he emphasizes he would take a gradual approach, starting with a “robust public option” and offering a Medicare buy-in for those 55 and older.
Below are the candidates’ stances on COVID-19 and health care.
- Fund rapid COVID-19 testing for schools, workplaces, so they can identify positive cases.
- Does not support federal COVID-19 mandates that shut down schools or require face masks.
- Supports funding job training programs for high school and college students to keep the economy going during the pandemic.
- Supports protecting people with pre-existing conditions, but wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
- Feenstra said he wants to eliminate third-party billing from insurance companies.
- Feenstra supports lowering the price of pharmaceuticals and placing caps on how much a drug can cost.
- Supports a national COVID-19 plan that offers guidelines to state governments and constituents.
- Support funding for PPE for essential workers, schools and other government entities.
- Has not supported a federal mask mandate or other government mandates.
- Supports universal health care such as Medicare for all and taking gradual steps to reach it.
- Supports adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act, including dental and mental health care, expanding Medicaid allowing people age 55 and older to buy into Medicare.
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