6th GOP debate: What each candidate said about healthcare

Seven Republican candidates took the stage Thursday in North Charleston, S.C., for this year's first debate, less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses. The airwaves were dominated by businessman and TV personality Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, MD, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also participated in the debate. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was moved to the lower tier debate and decided to skip it altogether.

Here is what each of the candidates said about healthcare.

1. Mr. Trump again stressed he would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
"Our healthcare is a horror show," Mr. Trump said. "Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry. And I won't be angry when we fix, but until we fix it, I'm very, very angry," he said. However, when asked what he would do to fix the "mess," he ran out of time and the moderators moved to Sen. Rubio.

Later while underscoring his support for the second amendment, Mr. Trump touched on the state of mental health. "We have a huge mental health problem in this country. We're closing hospitals, we're closing wards," he said. "We're closing so many because the states want to save money. We have to get back into looking at what's causing it. The guns don't pull the trigger. It's the people that pull the trigger and we have to find out what is going on."

2. Mr. Bush also called attention to issues with mental healthcare.
"That's a serious issue that we could work on," Mr. Bush said. "Republicans and Democrats alike believe this. The president's first impulse is do this by executive order, power he doesn't have. Why not go to Congress and in a bipartisan way, begin to deal with the process of mental health issues so that people that are spiraling out of control because of mental health challenges don't have access to guns?"

3. Sen. Rubio promised to reverse President Barack Obama's executive orders.
"This election has to be about reversing all of that damage. That's why I'm running for office because when I become president of the U.S., on my first day in office we are going to repeal every single one of his unconstitutional executive orders. When I'm president of the United States, we are getting rid of Obamacare and we are rebuilding our military," Sen. Rubio said. He also called the ACA "a certified job killer," and reiterated that he would repeal and replace the healthcare reform law to control debt and improve the economy.

4. Sen. Cruz proposed a simple flat tax as the solution to a number of economic issues, which would include the repeal of several taxes under the ACA.
"The way you do it is you pass a tax plan like the tax plan I've introduced: a simple flat tax, 10 percent for individuals, and a 16 percent business flat tax, you abolish the IRS...and here's the critical point, Maria — the business flat tax enables us to abolish the corporate income tax, the death tax, the Obamacare taxes, the payroll taxes, and they're border-adjustable, so every export pays no taxes whatsoever," Sen. Cruz said.

5. Gov. Christie took a moment to highlight his entitlement reform plan, which he says will save Social Security and Medicare for seniors.
"I'm the only one up on this stage who back in April put forward a detailed entitlement reform plan that will save over $1 trillion, save Social Security, save Medicare, and avoid this — avoid what Hillary Rodham Clinton will do to you, because what she will do is come in and she will raise Social Security taxes," he said.

6. Gov. Kasich promised to freeze federal regulations to promote job growth.
"Look, it takes three things basically to grow jobs. And I've done it when I was in Washington when we had a balanced budget; had four years of balanced budgets; paid down a half-trillion of debt. And our economy was growing like crazy. It's the same thing that I did in Ohio. It's a simple formula: common sense regulations, which is why I think we should freeze all federal regulations for one year, except for health and safety," he said.

7. Dr. Carson also proposed a flat tax.
"I would suggest a fair tax system, and that's what we have proposed. A flat tax for everybody — no exemptions, no deductions, no shelters, because some people have a better capability of taking advantage of those than others," Dr. Carson said. "And then the other thing we have to do is stop spending so much money."

See the full transcript here.


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