38th District Candidates on Health Issues
Prior to the election, California Healthline is profiling the health care views of candidates in some of the state's key races. Today, CHL examines the race for California's 38th Congressional District (Los Angeles County) between incumbent Rep. Steve Horn (R) and challenger Gerrie Schipske (D).
Prescription drug coverage: Horn supports extending Medicare to cover a portion of seniors' prescription drug costs. He says the "most feasible" way to accomplish this would be through a market-based plan that charges seniors a deductible and then covers all prescription drug costs over that amount. The plan would be "100% voluntary," and seniors happy with their current coverage could choose to retain it. Low-income and disabled seniors would receive "100% federal assistance," including full reimbursement of premiums, for their drug costs under Horn's plan. Schipske also believes the government should aid seniors with their prescription drug costs and proposes using the federal surplus to cover some of the cost. She adds that future costs can be offset by a "slight increase in Medicare premiums" (California Journal supplement, 10/00). In addition, Schipske is in favor of creating a formulary "that restricts drug companies from charging more than what is charged to other types of patients" (Schipske campaign Web site);
Medicare reform: Horn calls for "moderniz[ing]" Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare+Choice plans so that they benefit from volume discounts and "more efficient management." He wants to emphasize preventive care by expanding preventive benefits and focusing on prevention and lower-cost treatments, a move he says would reduce health care expensese. Horn also approves of "social HMOs" (California Journal supplement, 10/00). Schipske supports using a portion of the federal surplus to expand home health care and long term care benefits under Medicare (Schipske Web site). Schipske also believes in allowing individuals under 65 to "buy into" Medicare, and advocates requiring HMOs that enroll Medicare beneficiaries to refund a portion of the annual premium if a beneficiary has not received any care for the past 12 months;
- Patients' bill of rights: Calling a patients' bill of rights "the critical measure needed to improve the quality of care provided by, and to restore confidence in, the managed care system," Horn cited his role as co-sponsor and supporter of HR 2723, the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights (California Journal supplement, 10/00). Schipske also favors a patients' bill of rights, and believes that such a bill should guarantee individuals' access to specialists; limit financial incentives to doctors; allow independent, external appeals; and give patients the right to "take action against HMOs for negligence." Schipske also calls for the establishment of a "National Patient Advocate" in the executive branch of the government. This advocate would "be charged with responsibility for setting priorities and objectives" for dealing with the problem of the uninsured and the "continuing fragmentation of health care and its consequences" (Schipske Web site);
- The uninsured: Horn believes that "the most effective and practical way to extend health insurance to the uninsured is through tax credits," since tax credits would "equalize the conditions" faced by those without employer-provided coverage. Horn also favors 100% tax deductions for long term care and supports MSAs. Horn adds that while a comprehensive solution for covering uninsured children may not currently be available, "interim steps," such as expanding enrollment sites for SCHIP to include schools and child care centers and extending coverage to parents of children eligible for SCHIP, can provide some relief for uninsured low-income children and their parents (California Journal supplement, 10/00). Schipske also supports the use of tax incentives to allow small businesses to offer coverage, and advocates the implementation of a "national health care coverage fund" which "can be utilized to provide health care coverage through employment" (Schipske Web site). The creation of a "National Office of Health Care" in the White House to coordinate the nation's health care system could result in savings which could be used to expand access to coverage for more Americans, Schipske says. She also favors boosting funding for community health clinics and simplifying Healthy Families applications (California Journal supplement, 10/00).
For more information on Schipske, visit her Web site at www.schipske4congress.org. For more information on Horn, visit his Web sites at www.stevehorn.org or www.house.gov/horn. For complete Election 2000 information, go to HealthCounts 2000. HealthCounts 2000 is a partnership between the California HealthCare Foundation, KVIE-TV's California CapitolWeek, the Sacramento Bee, the California Journal and La Opinion designed to provide information about health care issues that are playing a role in this year's election.
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