Jakobsson, Calabrese debate health care

By Paolo Cisneros

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, and Republican challenger Frank Calabrese, senior in LAS, faced off during a debate in Urbana on Thursday night that featured a variety of health care-related questions.

Neither candidate made specific reference to how they intended to keep up with rising health care costs, but they agreed that supporting social services should be an important issue for whoever is elected.

The forum was hosted by the Campaign for Better Health Care, a nongovernmental organization that promotes the principle that affordable health care is a basic human right.

Both candidates said health care reform would be one of their respective legislative priorities, and that budget cuts by Gov. Rod Blagojevich have made affordable health care a more difficult goal for the state.

Jakobsson said that legislators in Springfield have a responsibility to work together to provide uncovered Illinoisans with a health plan.

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“The details are negotiable. The principle is not,” she said.

Calabrese said he supports a system that requires higher-income individuals to purchase their own health care, while those who cannot afford a plan will be covered by the state.

Those who can afford coverage have a “social responsibility” to pay into a system that will ensure the health care needs of individuals at or below the poverty line will be met, he said.

Of the 12.6 million Illinois residents, 14 percent are uninsured, according to Individual Health Plans.

The two candidates also stressed shifting existing resources to preventative measures so as to avoid future health problems in individuals from developing.

“I believe expanding preventative health care, in the long run, will reduce health care costs,” Calabrese said.

Jakobsson agreed, saying too much money was being spent treating chronic diseases that were preventable at the outset.

By shifting resources to preventative measures, the state would save money, she said.