SPRING MILLS – Eastern Panhandle pharmacist Ken Reed, a Republican candidate for the Second Congressional District, says he will focus his campaign on changes to the Affordable Care Act.
“You’ve already seen a little bit of what the Affordable Care Act is going to do,” he said. “They kicked people off of their health care plans when they said that they wouldn’t. They’re going to start kicking physicians and pharmacies out of your plans too. It is inevitable.”
“Next year the employer mandate will kick in, and things will really hit the fan,” he said.
Reed, who started his first pharmacy in Berkeley Springs in 1998, says his experience in the healthcare industry gives him expert knowledge that renders him particularly able to advocate for changes in the law.
“The [Affordable Care Act] is the driving reason why I am doing this,” he said. “This ACA, or Obamacare, is going to have huge impacts across the spectrum with employers, employees, health care in general… It is time we got someone with a health care background into Congress to talk about some of the stuff they are doing.”
In particular, Reed says the law will have to be modified either to impose caps on the total coverage insurance companies are required to provide to patients or to allow them to reject patients with pre-existing conditions.
“The ACA is going to have to be modified,” he said. “You can’t have everything. You can’t have no caps and [no denial for] pre-existing conditions. You just can’t have both … I think you’re going to have to have some kind of caps.”
Reed said the law is also unfair because it shifts costs from older and sicker individuals to younger and healthier individuals. It is also unfair, he said, to require individuals to have policies that insure against medical conditions that policyholders are unlikely to ever suffer from.
“You should have choice,” he said. “I just think its wrong. They are forcing you to buy coverage that you don’t need.”
Reed – a partner in seven pharmacies, four of which are located in the Eastern Panhandle – said he will also focus on supporting small businesses.
“I am an advocate for small business, because I own a small business. Small business is the backbone of West Virginia,” he said. “I think that there should be people running for Congress who have actually written payroll checks.”
Reed argues that it is time for a Congressional representative from the Eastern Panhandle to be elected to represent the state.
“I think it is pretty important that the Eastern Panhandle start to get representation in government, and I think I am a perfect candidate for that,” he said. “Since I have interests all up and down the Eastern Panhandle, think I might be a good candidate for that spot.”
Reed said he expects the Second District race to attract lots of outside money, making it a very expensive race.
“It is going to be an expensive race, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “It is kind of absurd, actually. It’s a $175,000-a-year job, and I am estimating that it will cost around $600,000 to get this seat, possibly more if it gets crazy near the end.”
Reed says he thinks that races that expensive make it difficult for any candidate who is not wealthy or closely linked to the national political parties to be elected.
“I think it’s insane. I’m not happy about it at all,” he said. “Can it even happen today without being part of the establishment of having $2 million in your back pocket? Can you not buy the race but actually win it?”
Reed said he thinks that campaign finance laws should prohibit donations and spending from individuals and groups outside of the district in question.
He said he knows it will be difficult to raise the funds to compete in the race, but he hopes that if he can win over the Eastern Panhandle he will be able to swing the election in his favor.
“I am hoping the Eastern Panhandle will get behind one candidate, and I am hoping that candidate is me,” he said.
– Bryan Clark