BILBRAY/DAVIS: 49th District Candidates on Health Issues
Prior to the election, California Healthline will profile the health care views of candidates in some of the state's key races. Today, CHL examines the race for California's 49th Congressional District (San Diego County) between incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) and state Assembly member Susan Davis (D).
Prescription drug coverage: Bilbray states that he supported the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, a "market-based" measure that would "provide seniors with guaranteed access to affordable prescription drugs by making sure that private insurers offer at the very least two varieties of plans" and calls for the government to step in when no private coverage is available. Low-income seniors would also be provided subsidies for prescription drugs under the act (www.brianbilbray.com). Bilbray wants to ensure that under a new prescription drug plan seniors can retain their currents benefit if they are satisfied. He also would consider using the non-Social Security surplus to fund a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Davis also favors a Medicare prescription drug benefit funded "by encouraging competition and by negotiating well." She adds, "Prescription drugs should be a priority even if we have to make some other cuts."
Medicare reform: Bilbray believes "long-term structural changes" are needed for both Medicare and HCFA. He states, "Private sector options that give our senior population more options and flexibility to receive the type of health care coverage that best fits their needs should be encouraged and fostered." He also would consider using the surplus to extend Medicare's solvency. Davis favors "encourag[ing] employers to offer long term care insurance" to employees. She advocates paying down the national debt and investing in Medicare.
Patients' bill of rights: Bilbray supports and voted for the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights. He also advocates "national tort reform" to help "preserve and redirect vital resources to patient care and not lawyer profits" (California Journal supplement, 10/00). Davis states that, as a California Assembly member, she "authored legislation to protect medical privacy rights and to guarantee patients the right to receive a second opinion" (www.susandavisforcongress.org). She supports a patients' bill of rights and also wants "to ensure that federal law gives women the same direct access to OB/GYNs as the California law which [she authored]."
- The uninsured: Bilbray supports "outreach and education efforts" to enroll individuals eligible for health care assistance programs, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program. He also wants to reduce the "federal bureaucracy" in signing up for these programs and to give tax incentives in the form of "health credits" for lower-income families. In addition, Bilbray supports allowing small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance and the self-employed to receive tax benefits. Davis also favors outreach programs and tax credits, including those for self-employed workers (California Journal supplement, 10/00).
For more information on Bilbray, visit his Web site at www.brianbilbray.com. For more information on Davis, visit her Web site at www.susandavisforcongress.com. For complete election information go to http://www.chcf.org/specialprojects/healthvote2000/. Health Vote 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.
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala attended a fundraiser for Davis yesterday and campaigned at San Diego State University to support the challenger in this "heated" race. Shalala "urged" the SDSU crowd to support Davis because she believes in "HMO reform and a national patients' bill of rights." Davis added, "I'm not just going to be an occasional vote for something as important as a patients' bill of rights. I'll be the leader and one of the champions in the area." Bilbray, citing his vote for Norwood-Dingell, called Shalala's visit "strictly partisan," adding, "She's not campaigning against my voting record. She's campaigning against my party affiliation" (Nguyen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.