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3rd Berkshire candidates discuss driving down state health care costs

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Albany/HV: 3rd Berkshire candidates discuss driving down state health care costs
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Candidates for the 3rd Berkshire State Representative seat will square off in a televised debate Monday. And in preparation for the debate, our Brandon Walker asks each candidate to address how the state could bring down ballooning health care costs.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Type in health care costs on the state's bill search engine database and you'll find proposal after proposal for bringing down what's become one huge burden on state coffers.

"I think the first thing we need to do is look at what is driving health care costs up," said Tricia Farley-Bouvier, democrat, candidate for 3rd Berkshire State Representative seat.

"We need to bring back more competitive rating in Massachusetts," said Mark Jester, republican, candidate for 3rd Berkshire State Representative seat.

"We have to generate an enormous amount of revenue for that to work," said Pam Malumphy, an independent candidate for the 3rd Berkshire State Representative seat.

"The current system continues to be burdensome on state government," said Mark Miller, the Green-Rainbow candidate for the 3rd Berkshire State Representative seat.

So, that's where all four candidates for the 3rd Berkshire District seat agree. The state's universal health care system is too costly. Where they differ, though, is on how they'd go about fixing that.

"Our hospital, for example, all of our primary care physicians all our health care providers spend so much time working on administrative costs to deal with different insurance companies," Farley-Bouvier said.

"By opening it up to competitive rating, you're able to bring in more competition and so more competition you're gonna have lower costs. Just anything else," Jester said.

"Either you make the system highly, highly competitive in order to drive the prices down dramatically, or you go into a single payer health system," Malumphy said.

Which brings us to Green-Rainbow candidate Mark Miller, who would advocate fully for a single-payer system. That's when everyone pays into one big insurance pool administered by the state.

"You do away with a lot of the costs now that private insurance companies need for their whole marketing scheme. What they pay their executives," he said.

Current 4th Berkshire District rep Smitty Pignatelli tells YNN the state house will begin debate on a cost control bill either later this fall or early next year.

The candidates will speak more on this and other issues this Monday during a live televised debate.

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