Sears preps for re-election run marked by health care discussionWritten by Bailey G. Dick | | firstname.lastname@example.org
State Rep. Barbara Sears is confident going into what could be her final election.
“I’ll work, and I’ll win,” Sears said of the challenges facing her in the coming months.
Sears is facing conservative political activist Scott Allegrini in a May 6 primary election for Ohio House District 47, which includes many of Toledo’s northern and western suburbs, as well as almost all of Fulton County.
Sears got her start in politics serving on Sylvania City Council alongside her father. She was also the co-owner of Noble and Sears, an employee benefits and financial planning firm. She currently works as the senior vice president of employee benefits at Roemer Insurance.
Given her background in insurance, Sears has spearheaded legislative projects concerning health care on the state floor. She was assigned to committees dealing with insurance, health and aging, and health and human services.
“I have, for the speaker, quarterbacked pretty much all things having to do with health insurance, workers compensation and those issues,” Sears said. “Probably 80-90 percent of what I do down there is health-related, just because somebody’s got to take control over that area.”
Sears will need to draw upon her knowledge of health care during the upcoming election, as one of the hot-button issues of her race will be the topic she knows best.
As a Republican, Sears has drawn some criticism for her support of Medicaid expansion in Ohio, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. One of her harshest critics has been Allegrini.
“If you expect your representative to fight to keep Obamacare and its mandates out of Ohio, than you should vote for me,” Allegrini said. “If you support Obamacare and expanding the reach of federal and state government into your health care, then you should vote for Barb Sears.
“Health care is the most basic of personal liberties, and when she is so wrong on such a key issue, how many other issues will she be wrong on? With the federal government so wildly out of control, the next few years will be more important than ever before, as the state governments may need to make a stand against the overreach of those in D.C. We will need elected officials in Ohio that can see the big picture and know the importance of protecting Ohioans, and I will do that.”
Sears said she doesn’t agree with how her fellow conservatives are reacting to her position on Medicaid reform.
“The interesting thing is that prior to the Medicaid issue coming up, the conservative groups were inviting me into their functions and wanting to hear from me. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called too conservative for the district I serve,” Sears said.
“From a fiscal standpoint, from a family values standpoint, and from a human capital standpoint, the Medicaid expansion makes sense. I get the fact that the expansion came with the Affordable Care Act,” Sears said. “I was part of the team that said we should not do a state exchange, and I think the feds are 100 percent wrong for doing what they did with the Affordable Care Act.”
Sears pointed to cost-cutting by reducing what she called “silos” of care in state-run institutions and incentivizing families to become employed and remain intact.
“Expanding Medicaid is just the right thing to do. Businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, right to life groups, all these groups are supportive of it for either the financial reason, the human capital reason or quite frankly, the moral reason,” Sears said.
Sears said she believes she will win the May primary, and believes she has the support of the majority of her party.
“I don’t think the Republican Party thinks I’m not conservative enough. I think a fraction of the party thinks that. Scott’s a fine guy. He helped me campaign. He said he agrees with me 99 percent of the time, but that 99 percent isn’t enough,” Sears said. “I think that mainstream Republicans agree with me.”
Sears is looking forward to enjoying her remaining time in office. She will reach her term limits should she win.
“I love this. This is the most enjoyable thing in life for me. I learn about new things I’ve never been exposed to,” Sears said. “We live in a very diverse state. On any given day, I can start with health care reform and can end up talking about agriculture or scrap metal issues, and that’s all before lunch.”
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