HUTCHISON/TAUSCHER: 10th 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 10th congressional district between challenger Claude Hutchison (R) and incumbent Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D).
- Prescription drug coverage. Hutchison favors a Medicare prescription drug supplement plan that would provide a tax credit or voucher for low-income beneficiaries to purchase prescription drugs. Under the plan, beneficiaries would pay an annual deductible of $100 and a nominal copay for each prescription. Tauscher supports providing a prescription drug benefit directly through Medicare (California Journal supplement 10/00). She also co-sponsored the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act to require health insurance coverage of contraceptives (www.ellentauscher.com).
- Medicare reform. Hutchison supports a complete overhaul of the Medicare system that would focus on choice and competition among participating plans. He favors a new Medicare system modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which provides a wide range of competing health plans. Under the plan, Medicare beneficiaries would receive a voucher to enroll in a health plan selected from a group of approved plans. Tauscher voted for a budget plan that would use some of the budget surplus to shore up the Medicare trust fund.
- Patients' bill of rights. Hutchison supports a patients' bill of rights that "fundamentally states that doctors, not administrators, should decide what is 'medically necessary' for their patients." He also believes that doctors and hospitals "should be further insulated from the impact of frivolous threats of litigation through a well-installed system of arbitration and mediation mandated to resolve disputes." (California Journal supplement, 10/00). Tauscher supports the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill that will "ensure that HMOs follow basic rules that provide for quality of health care" (www.ellentauscher.com).
- The uninsured. Hutchison suggests an "incremental approach" to address the number of uninsured. He advocates medical savings accounts for people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and expansion of the COBRA system to provide coverage for people who are "between jobs." Hutchison also suggests allowing the school system to play a more active role in helping to enroll uninsured children into government programs. Furthermore, he advocates moving from the present employer-based coverage system to an individual/family based system, which would allow individuals to choose from "a wide list of competing providers under the umbrella of purchasing units." Funding for such a system would be provided through employer allowances or vouchers drawn from state unemployment funds. Tauscher supports the expansion of funding for Medicaid and sCHIP outreach. She advocates simplifying the application process for government programs and using schools and child care resources to increase outreach and enrollment efforts. She also supports full deductibility of health care coverage premiums for self-employed individuals (California Journal supplement, 10/00).