CD3 Candidate John Oceguera Side Steps Question Of Support For Federal Health Care Law, Offers No Plan on Key Issues

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker and 3rd Congressional District candidate John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, declined today to say whether he supports the federal health care law now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oceguera, who is termed out of office in the Assembly, said it is premature to comment on the law given the fact that it is awaiting a decision on its constitutionality by the nation’s high court.

CD3 candidate John Oceguera.

“What I say is, if we can make health care more transparent, make insurance companies more transparent, and get the cost of health care down, then I’m for that.”

Oceguera, interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program, repeatedly declined to state a position on the law. Oceguera is challenging Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in a race that has attracted several other candidates as well.

Heck won the seat in 2010 after defeating then-Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who voted for the health care law. Titus was one of many Democrats in Congress who was defeated after voting for the controversial health care legislation. Titus is now a candidate for congress in the 1st Congressional District.

Heck, a physician, opposes the health care law.

Asked about comments by Mike Willden, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, that Nevada will have to add 150,000 people to the Medicaid program and spend $574 million between now and 2020 if the health care law is upheld, Oceguera offered qualified support for increased access to health care.

Willden made the comments in an interview televised today on Nevada NewsMakers and reported by the Nevada News Bureau.

“I think that if we can make health care more accessible, that is a laudable goal and we ought to do that,” Oceguera said.

A now retired North Las Vegas firefighter, Oceguera said he knows firsthand that for many people, it was dialing 911 that was their option to gain access to medical care.

“I don’t think that is the way it should work,” he said.

Oceguera pushed for a bill in the 2011 legislative session that would have imposed more transparency on rate increases sought by health insurance companies. Assembly Bill 309 passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In his veto message Sandoval said the goals of the measure were laudable, but that the bill “does more harm than good and seems to impose duplicative regulatory requirements.”

Oceguera took the opportunity during the interview to criticize Heck for what he said were comments that minimized Nevada’s foreclosure crisis in 2008 by calling it a blip on the radar and for not being proactive in dealing with the problem.

A House committee held a hearing on the crisis in Las Vegas in March at Heck’s request.

Oceguera said job creation is the key to the foreclosure crisis.

“You fix this economy, you get it back on track, you balance the budget the right way,” he said. “That helps put people back to work. If they’ve got a job they can make their house payment.”

But Oceguera offered few specifics on how to end the foreclosure crisis or protect Medicare. He also declined to take a position on the federal stimulus bill.

Oceguera also responded to questions about a column written by Las Vegas Review-Journal Glenn Cook last month calling him a “world class hypocrite” for championing the middle class after retiring at age 43 to collect a lifetime public pension.

Oceguera said he was fortunate to be a firefighter and that he “did it by the book.”

The election is about priorities and getting the economy back on track, he said.

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Audio clips:

Congressional candidate John Oceguera says he is for more transparency to get the cost of health care down:

050712Oceguera1 :08 I’m for that.”

Oceguera says getting people back to work is key to solving the foreclosure crisis:

050712Oceguera3 :14 their house payment.”