Dr. Harold C. “Tex” Spear, III (R-Dist. 15), of Puhi and Hanapepe, runs his campaign not just to win a seat in the State House, but to educate the public on his three top issues for Kaua’i: health, education and traffic.
“There are extremely expensive medical conditions that ‘ruin’ the whole system; the system is designed for healthy people, not sick people,” he noted. People do get sick, they do get rare conditions, and thus the system is taxed, he said.
Spear says that health care can be improved with the medical savings account (MSA), an interest-bearing, tax-deductible savings account much like an IRA, used in conjunction with medical insurance. He promises to teach the concept of MSAs to the State House of Representatives as a health care alternative.
Instead of paying an HMO from paychecks, federal income tax money is deposited to the MSA. Once the MSA reaches a certain amount, the individual can withdraw money for medical expenses.
MSAs have been implemented in other states “that have not had the rules designed by the insurance company,” he said.
Medical expenses are paid by withdrawing funds from the account. If expenses exceed the insurance policy’s deductible amount, the policy pays the additional costs. If costs are less than the MSA, the difference stays in the account and earns interest. If the entire MSA is spent, MSA contributions are used for medical expenses until the deductible is reached. At age 65, the money can be used for retirement.
MSAs can also be used for laser eye surgery, vitamins, substance abuse treatment or just about anything health-related, he said.
Spear’s second big issue is education and home-schooling. He says, “Put 10 students in home school with good teachers from the community who are disenfranchised.”
He is in favor of supporting charter schools and home schools by providing curriculum resources, manpower and standardized testing.
Spear said he thinks that home schooling would take the load off the over-burdened public education system, and the small, home-like atmosphere contributes to teaching and learning. He said he sees that when home-schooled kids do enter the public school system, in college or high school, they are often at the top of their class.
Next, Spear says he wants to help tackle the traffic problem with feeder routes and bypass roads.
Existing cane haul roads were made for 18-wheelers, but with a bulldozer and a roller, they can be turned into roads that a regular car can drive on, he said. These roads are not going to open up the island because the roads already exist although now there are gates closing off private property.
Private financing through loans would be needed to pay for the grading, and a toll could be charged, $1 for locals and $5 for tourists. Release forms would be used for driving across private land, and as the cost of the road gets paid, the toll would be decreased.
On substance abuse, Spear suggests preventative education early and repetitively in all school grades, as well as mandatory abstinence and alcohol enforcement and testing for all offenders. Incentives could be awarded for abstinence proven through testing – time off, extracurricular activities, or MSA contributions.
Solutions for domestic abuse could follow a similar strategy, using education early and repetitively in school. Penalties could be issued to repeat offenders, like loss of driving privileges.
The addictive voice recognition technique, an alternative type of treatment for addiction, is proven to have a higher success rate and could be used in place of traditional programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Spear said. AVRT focuses on empowering individuals and teaching planned abstinence, or self-determination and self-reliance, instead of admitting helplessness against the so-called disease of addiction.
Spear, 51, received a full minor in environmental studies, a new interdisciplinary program at the time, from University of California at Santa Barbara, studying ecology, environmental law and effects of photochemical smog and other pollution. After leaving the University of California, Spear moved to the Big Island, living in Pahoa and Hilo.
Spear earned a master’s degree equivalent in chemistry from Florida Presbyterian College in St. Petersburg (now Eckard College) and a doctorate in medicine from Emory University in Atlanta.
Spear has two children from his first marriage. His eldest daughter, 22, is an artist and musician. His 20-year-old son attends college. He is also the father of a 15-year-old girl who is a ranked Western division endurance horse rider; and a 2 1/2-year-old son.
Spear’s medical experience includes emergency medicine at Tripler Army Medical Center and the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, as well as his own private practice, Hanapepe Clinic.