California Congressional Race Winners’ Stances on Health Care Issues
As the election results roll in, California Healthline presents the winners and recaps their stances on various health care issues.
In the race for California's 10th congressional district (Alameda/Contra Costa counties), incumbent Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) defeated challenger Claude Hutchison (R) by a 53% to 45% margin (CNN.com, 11/8). Tauscher supports providing a prescription drug benefit directly through Medicare. She also supports the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights (HR 2723). Tauscher also backs the expansion of funding for Medicaid and SCHIP outreach and advocates simplifying the application process for government programs and using schools and child care resources to increase outreach and enrollment efforts. Finally, she supports full deductibility of health care coverage premiums for self-employed individuals (California Healthline, 10/27).
In the race for California's 15th congressional district (Santa Clara/Santa Cruz counties), state Assembly member Mike Honda (D) defeated state Assembly member Jim Cunneen (R) by a 55% to 42% margin (CNN.com, 11/8). Honda believes that Medicare beneficiaries should have "the opportunity to buy prescription drugs at the reduced prices currently offered to the federal government" and HMOs. To accomplish this, Honda favors requiring pharmaceutical companies to offer prescription drugs to seniors at these discount rates. Honda also favors a "strong, enforceable" patients' bill of rights, which would include "guaranteed access to needed specialists and emergency room services ... to ensure that doctors and patients make medical decisions." Honda wants to expand coverage to underinsured populations -- first, by implementing outreach programs to "make sure that all Americans who are eligible for Medicaid or [CHIP] are actually enrolled" and second, by allowing all Americans ages 62-65, and all "displaced and retired workers," to buy into Medicare if they are uninsured (California Healthline, 10/30).
In the race for California's 22nd congressional district (San Luis Obispo/Santa Barbara counties), incumbent Rep. Lois Capps (D) retained her seat, defeating challenger Mike Stoker (R) by a 53% to 45% margin (CNN.com, 11/8). Capps' centered her reelection platform on a variety of issues, including fighting for the Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights (Wallace, Santa Barbara News-Press, 11/8). During her campaign, Capps championed a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit, paid for by a combination of surplus funds and premiums from seniors. Capps also advocates expanding CHIP enrollment to include the parents of eligible children. In addition, she supports allowing people ages 55-65 to buy into Medicare, making insurance for the self-employed 100% deductible and instituting tax credits for the purchase of health insurance (California Healthline, 11/6).
In the race for California's 27th congressional district (Los Angeles County), state Sen. Adam Schiff (D) defeated incumbent Rep. James Rogan (R), bringing to a close one of the most expensive House races in history. Schiff garnered 53% of the vote to Rogan's 45% (CNN.com, 11/8). Schiff supports adding a drug benefit directly to Medicare, and also backs the Prescription Drug Fairness Act (HR 4869), which would allow seniors to purchase drugs at the same prices as offered to HMOs. He supports the Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill, and backs tax incentives for small businesses to offer health coverage; tax credits for those who buy their own insurance; allowing individuals 55-64 years of age to buy into Medicare; and expanding CHIP coverage to working parents (California Healthline, 11/3).
Though the count is tight, the Washington Post is declaring former Rep. Jane Harman (D) the winner over incumbent Republican Steve Kuykendall, 48% to 47% (Washington Post, 11/8). Harman, who left the seat in 1998 for an unsuccessful run for governor, supports adding a prescription drug benefit directly to Medicare, in addition to measures to lower drug prices by "enhancing market competition and creating incentives to develop generic drugs." She also supports the Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights, and believes the CHIP program should be expanded to cover more children, as well as the parents of CHIP- eligible children, and would dedicate more state and federal resources toward public hospitals and clinics. In addition, Harman supports abortion rights.
In the race for California's 38th congressional district (Los Angeles County), incumbent Rep. Steve Horn (R) defeated challenger Gerrie Schipske (D) by a 49% to 48% margin (washingtonpost.com, 11/8). Horn supports extending Medicare to cover a portion of seniors' prescription drug costs 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. Horn was a co-sponsor and supporter of the Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights. He 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. To cover uninsured children, Horn advocates "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 (California Healthline, 11/3).
In the race for California's 49th congressional district (San Diego County), state Assembly member Susan Davis (D) defeated incumbent Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) by a 50% to 46% margin (washingtonpost.com, 11/8). Davis favors a Medicare prescription drug benefit funded "by encouraging competition and by negotiating well." Davis advocates "encourag[ing] employers to offer long term care insurance" to employees. As a California Assembly member, Davis "authored legislation to protect medical privacy rights and to guarantee patients the right to receive a second opinion." 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." To address the issue of the uninsured, Davis supports outreach and education efforts to enroll individuals eligible for health care assistance programs, such as SCHIP, and health tax credits for low-income families and self-employed individuals (California Healthline, 10/31).