BOXER VS. FONG II: Candidates Trade Barbs On Health Again
In separate campaign appearances Thursday, Senate candidates Barbara Boxer (D) and Matt Fong (R) again "exchanged recriminations" on health care and HMOs. The Los Angeles Times reports that Boxer accused Fong of "being in league with [HMOs] that are more interested in profits than the health of Californians." She said, "My opponent believes that an HMO doesn't have to be held accountable in court if they kill you! Don't you think it's time they put our vital signs ahead of their dollar signs?" Fong responded in a Southern California appearance, "You can't sue your way into good health." He added that Boxer is distorting his record, maintaining that he would support legislation to allow patients to sue their health plans, but only "if there is accompanying tort reform to limit the financial liability of HMOs." While Fong toured Children's Hospital of Los Angeles with Marilyn Quayle yesterday, protesters "demonstrated against his views on HMOs." He did not meet with the protesters (Perry/Pyle, 10/23).
The Race Card
Much of the acrimony between the two candidates on HMO reform stems from an ad "produced by the state Democratic party that links him to 'foreign diplomats' to slam his position on HMOs." The AP/Contra Costa Times reports that the ad shows the United Nations building, "juxtaposes the words 'Matt Fong' and 'foreign diplomats,'" and states that Fong "wants laws that mean just about the only people in America who can't be sued are foreign diplomats and HMOs." Fong accused the Boxer campaign of "engineer[ing]" the ad "to stir up animosity about his Chinese heritage." He said, "She's raising references about race and ethnicity that are very inappropriate. It's very negative. It's very shameful and despicable to try and distort my position." Democrats, on the other hand, suggest that it is Fong who is playing racial politics "in an attempt to galvanize" the state's 700,000 Asian Americans to vote. Boxer downplayed any sensationalism in the ad, saying, "That HMO ad is factual" (Howard, 10/22). Click here for past CHL coverage of this race.