CUNNEEN/HONDA: 15th District Candidates on Health Issues
As election day draws near, California HealthLine will
continue to profile the health care views of candidates in some of the state's key races. Today, CHL examines the race for an open seat in California's 15th Congressional District (Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Counties) between Assembly members Jim Cunneen (R) and Mike Honda (D).
Prescription drug coverage: Cunneen supports prescription drug coverage, "especially for the poorest [beneficiaries] on Medicare." He does not favor price controls, which could slow "advanced research" for cures and treatment. Cunneen advocates "a bipartisan effort to model a health plan selection system for Medicare beneficiaries on the systems used by our 10 million federal employees" and providing "stand-alone drug insurance to Medicare beneficiaries earning up to 200% of the poverty level." Honda also supports a Medicare prescription drug benefit. He believes beneficiaries should have "the opportunity to buy prescription drugs at the reduced prices currently offered to the federal government" and HMOs (California Journal supplement, 10/00). To accomplish this, Honda favors "requiring pharmaceutical companies to offer prescription drugs to seniors" at these discount rates (www.mikehonda.com).
Medicare reform: Cunneen supports shoring up Medicare by using part of the nation's projected budget surplus. He also wants to reduce fraud, which cost the United States more than $12.6 billion in 1998. Honda also supports using the surplus to bolster Medicare. He wants to "modernize" Medicare by adding features such as "primary care case management" to reduce costs. He believes adding a prescription drug benefit will save money in the long run by preventing the "onset of costly and debilitating diseases." He also wants to curb Medicare abuse (California Journal supplement, 10/00).
Patients' bill of rights: As a member of the California State Assembly, Cunneen says that he has worked for a patients' bill of rights, which allowed for the right to a second opinion, to have medical information kept private, to have "an impartial review of disputes with an HMO" and to sue an HMO "when serious treatment decisions are found to be inappropriate and the patient is harmed as a result" (www.cunneen.com). Cunneen says he would support the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Honda also favors a "strong, enforceable" patients' bill of rights, one that includes "guaranteed access to needed specialists and emergency room services ... to ensure that doctors and patients make medical decisions."
Uninsured: Cunneen believes "the federal and state governments should provide incentives for small businesses ... to pool together and purchase insurance plans collectively" to provide coverage for presently unemployed workers. While not in favor of "nationalized health care," he does support individual tax credits and deductions to help the uninsured purchase coverage. He also supports the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program through block grants to states. 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 Journal supplement, 10/00).
For more information on Cunneen, visit his Web site at www.cunneen.com. For more information on Honda, visit his Web site at www.mikehonda.com. For complete Election 2000 information, go to www.healthcounts2000.org. 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. 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.