Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats says it’s time for the State of Iowa to run Medicare and Medicaid for Iowans.

This past weekend, Vander Plaats told a gathering of central Iowa Republicans that the national health care reform debate is a debacle. "We will run our own health care in the state of Iowa," Vander Plaats said. "We will not let the government run our health care for us."

During a telephone interview with Radio Iowa on Monday, Vander Plaats expanded on his idea.

"We’re a sovereign state and the federal government is just getting great at controlling us with our money. We need to understand the federal government doesn’t have money of its own. It’s coming from our citizens. It goes into the federal government and they come back with the controls and what we’re seeing is more and more mandates," Vander Plaats said. "In particular on this health care deal, as it gets passed onto the states, it has the possibility of bankrupting the states."

If elected governor, Vander Plaats would advocate taking all the taxes Iowans pay to support Medicare — and Medicaid – and having the state run both programs.

"If you left the Medicaid and Medicare dollars that you’re taking from our citizens within the state of Iowa and let the State of Iowa design its health care delivery system, I think we’d be way better off than what the federal government has currently," Vander Plaats said.

According to Vander Plaats, "unfettered competition" among private insurance companies will improve access and tort reform will reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums for hospitals and doctors. Vander Plaats says if he’s elected, reimbursement rates for Iowa hospitals and doctors would go up for treatment of Medicare and Medicaid patients — if state government gets the sole authority the programs for Iowans.

Vander Plaats is calling on the nation’s governors to "stand up" to the federal government and oppose "nationalized health care."

"The fundamental argument here is that the states are a better laboratory," Vander Plaats said. "And I think that the states would come up with a better health care delivery system than the federal government’s mandated approach."

For five years, Vander Plaats ran "Opportunities Unlimited," a Sioux City agency that provides care to brain-injured children and adults. The agency was financed, in part, by Medicare and Medicaid dollars and, according to Vander Plaats, the strings attached to that money were difficult to navigate and the government rules were a "cookie-cutter-style" approach that ignored the needs to individual patients.