GOP Senate Candidates Perform Balancing Act Over Reform Law
The three candidates vying for the Republican nomination to face Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in the California Senate race face the difficult task of courting registered Republicans in the state who fiercely oppose the new health reform law to win the primary and then appealing to voters statewide who largely support the law, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The candidates competing for the Republican nomination are:
- Former U.S. House Rep. Tom Campbell;
- Assembly member Chuck DeVore (Irvine); and
- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
A recent Times/University of Southern California poll found 59% of registered Republicans said they would be less likely to support a candidate who voted for the health care bill.
However, of all California voters surveyed, 46% said they would be more likely to support a candidate who voted in favor of the reform law bill, compared with 29% who said they would not. More than 50% of voters surveyed said they believed the U.S. would be better off because of the law.
According to the Times, the reform law was written so the least controversial provisions kick in before the November mid-term election, when many Democratic supporters of the bill, including Boxer, face challenging re-election races.
Boxer said that by the fall, residents will see tangible benefits of the reform law.
According to political strategists, the eventual Republican nominee likely will moderate his or her stance on health reform in the general election to attract more swing voters.
GOP Candidates' Positions
All three Republican candidates have said the new law is unconstitutional and should be repealed, but they offer different plans for reforming the health care system.
All three candidates support:
- Changing the legal system to limit medical malpractice lawsuits;
- Permitting insurers to compete across state lines; and
- Shifting from an employer-based insurance system to an individual-based system.
Campbell has offered a proposal to provide coverage to low-income residents and those with pre-existing conditions by creating a system in which health care providers bid for contracts limited to a set amount of government funding.
In addition, Campbell and Fiorina both support further use of state high-risk pools for those who have pre-existing conditions and cannot find coverage in the insurance market.
Meanwhile, Fiorina supports increased access to community primary care clinics and has emphasized prevention and the use of existing lesser-known state programs. Fiorina also has said that if there is a need, she could see a small role for the government to help subsidize insurers who cover residents with pre-existing conditions.
DeVore has proposed using a tax system -- such as a credit that is close to the cost of catastrophic insurance -- to encourage consumers to purchase health insurance coverage (Mehta, Los Angeles Times, 5/5).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.