Gade, Warner spar over healthcare and COVID relief at final debate

Gade, Warner spar over healthcare and COVID relief at final debate
Warner v. Gade debate (Source: VPM)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - In Richmond Tuesday night, Virginia’s two senate candidates met for the last time before election day, separated by plexiglass and more than six feet of studio.

Much of the night was focused on two topics: access to healthcare and coronavirus relief. Gade, the American University professor and former Army Lt. Colonel, pressed Warner on the lack of a new coronavirus-relief bill this fall.

“This bill that was put forward by Mitch McConnell should have been passed,” he said.

Sen. Warner pushed back, saying that bill fell far short of what’s needed, and is “less than one third of even what the Trump administration has proposed.”

On healthcare, the candidates agreed that insurance should be sold across state lines, and that prescription drug prices need to be addressed, but differed on other tweaks.

“We need to have health savings accounts that are much bigger than they are now, and more generous in terms of their tax treatment,” Gade said.

“If there was some magic health savings account, or private market solution, that was going to have this magic wand to protect all the good things in the ACA, wouldn’t you think you would have heard about it by now?” Warner said.

On solutions for the opioid crisis, Gade shared his personal struggles with drugs following the loss of his leg, and laid out a laundry list of options.

“We need to make sure states have funding and prioritization for methadone clinics,” he said, adding “We need to help folks treat this as a disease.”

Warner said Congress has already taken some much-needed steps.

“They’ve provided additional funds, they’ve provided additional treatment protocols,” he said.

Both candidates also laid out fixes for social security, which they agreed is in trouble.

“We need to be examining the premises of the disability program, and perhaps tightening eligibility rules around certain kinds of disabilities,” Gade said.

“For folks like me who’ve done pretty well, we ought to go ahead and raise the amount of income that you can be taxed upon,” Warner said.

At one point during the debate, Gade claimed that Governor Ralph Northam ordered all virtual schools to close again. The governor did not take that step, though a misleading Facebook post did fuel those rumors Tuesday afternoon.

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