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Duncan Hunter on Health Care

Republican Representative (CA-52)


Romneyís plan has 1,000 mandates; drives up cost by 35%

HUNTER: I think Gov. Romneyís plan goes in exactly the wrong direction, because while it allows for private health insurance, it has lots of mandates. A good piece of those 1,000 or so mandates that drive up the cost of health care. That means that every single plan in the governorís state has to have certain things. Itís got to have, for example, fertility coverage. Well, what if youíre 90 years old? You may not need fertility coverage. Those 1,000 mandates drive up the cost of health care by about 35%. We need freedom. We need to allow people to buy their health care across state lines. That will bring down the cost of health care.

ROMNEY: We took as many mandates out as we could. And the legislature kept some there. It was a compromise. But the price of the premium for an individual [was] basically cut it in half by deregulating. Congressman, youíre absolutely right that taking regulation out of insurance brings the price down, and thatís why my plan would go state by state, & deregulate them.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida Oct 21, 2007

Bring back family doctor, with tax breaks & less malpractice

Q: What does your health care plan contain to address racial disparities in access to care and access to quality health care?

A: The first thing youíve got to have is the ability to buy your health care insurance across state lines. And right now, nobody in the US can do that. Secondly, I think we bring back the family doctor. And I think one way you bring back the family doctor is by taking away massive malpractice burdens, these massive insurance premiums that we place on people. And finally, letís try a little freedom. How about if we said in the tax code that if a doc will be a family doc, in the barrio, in the community, and he will do office visits for 30 bucks or 40 bucks a visit, he doesnít have to pay taxes on that, he doesnít have to have three accountants, he doesnít have to do all those things? Bring back the family doctor.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University Sep 27, 2007

Oppose mandated health insurance and universal coverage

Q: Nations with socialized medicine reduced the cost of their healthcare systems by restricting patientsí access that needed treatments and healthcare rationing. Will you protect the availability of needed medical care by opposing current efforts to subject Americans to government-mandated health insurance and universal coverage?
Source: [Xref Huckabee] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate Sep 17, 2007

Allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines

Letís get back to freedom. One thing you canít do right now, if youíre an American who has a health insurance plan is you canít buy health insurance across state lines. Now, weíve seen studies that have shown that the same coverage that costs 750 bucks a month in Massachusetts, you can buy in Missouri for 170 bucks a month. But you canít buy your health insurance across state lines like Americans buy lots of stuff across state lines.
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

SCHIP bill is the first extension of socialized medicine

I had a senior citizen come into my office one day. She had a $10 wrist brace on. And she said, ďI was told not to complain about this, because government is paying for it.Ē She gave me the bill. It was $525. Youíre going to see a lot of $525 wrist braces if we continue to pass this SCHIP bill which really is the first extension of socialized medicine. This is socialized medicine. Itís going to go to families that make $60,000 a year. Those arenít poor children [being covered by SCHIP].
Source: 2007 GOP Iowa Straw Poll debate Aug 5, 2007

States locking up insurance industry adds to high Rx prices

Q: What should we be doing to bring down the price of prescription drugs?

A: We need to be able to buy our health care insurance across state lines. Right now the same single policy that can be purchased in Long Beach for $73 costs $334 in New Jersey. The states lock up the insurance industry. They wonít let Americans buy across state lines just like they do everything else. If weíre able to do that, weíre going to bring down the cost of health insurance.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Free enterprise invents drugs; Third World canít do that

80% of the new drugs and new inventions that save our lives are made in the US because we have free enterprise, where people can go out, invest, and maybe they drill three dry holes, then maybe they hit the jackpot and they produce something that will save people. They then recover their money in the US. But Third World countries like Mexico could never provide the amount of money that it takes to make those inventions. Otherwise, they would.
Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.

Congressional Summary:Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Reference: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act; Bill HR.6331 ; vote number 2008-H491 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted NO on giving mental health full equity with physical health.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. PALLONE. This is a comprehensive bill which will establish full mental health and addiction care parity. The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 authorized for 5 years partial parity by mandating that the annual and lifetime dollar limit for mental health treatment under group health plans offering mental health coverage be no less than that for physical illnesses. This bill requires full parity and also protects against discrimination by diagnosis.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. DEAL of Georgia: I am a supporter of the concept of mental health parity, but this bill before us today is not the correct approach. This path will raise the price of health insurance, and would cause some to lose their health insurance benefits and some employers to terminate mental health benefits altogether.

The bill's focus is also overly broad. Our legislation should focus on serious biologically-based mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, not on jet lag and caffeine addiction, as this bill would include. There are no criteria for judicial review, required notice and comment, or congressional review of future decisions.

I would ask my colleagues to vote "no" today so that we can take up the Senate bill and avoid a possible stalemate in a House-Senate conference on an issue that should be signed into law this Congress.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 268-148

Reference: Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act; Bill H.R.1424 ; vote number 08-HR1424 on Mar 5, 2008

Voted NO on Veto override: Extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids.

OnTheIssues Explanation: This vote is a veto override of the SCHIP extension (State Children's Health Insurance Program). The bill passed the House 265-142 on 10/25/07, and was vetoed by Pres. Bush on 12/12/07.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: This Act would enroll all 6 million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage under existing programs.

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE: Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. My Administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. [But this bill, even with changes, does not meet the requirements I outlined].

It would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill protects health insurance coverage for some 6 million children who now depend on SCHIP. It provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. Together, this is a total of better than 10 million young Americans who, without this legislation, would not have health insurance.

The bill makes changes to accommodate the President's stated concerns.

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults in 1 year.
  2. It prohibits States from covering children in families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.
  4. It encourages securing health insurance provided through private employer.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 260-152 (2/3rds required)
Reference: SCHIP Extension; Bill Veto override on H.R.3963 ; vote number 08-HR3963 on Jan 23, 2008

Voted NO on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill HR 4 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-023 on Jan 12, 2007

Voted YES on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.

Vote to pass a resolution, agreeing to S. AMDT. 2691 that removes the following provisions from S 1932:
Reference: Reconciliation resolution on the FY06 budget; Bill H Res 653 on S. AMDT. 2691 ; vote number 2006-004 on Feb 1, 2006

Voted YES on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages.

Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill; Bill HR 4280 ; vote number 2004-166 on May 12, 2004

Voted YES on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.

Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR.1 ; vote number 2003-669 on Nov 22, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN; Bill HR.2427 ; vote number 2003-445 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted YES on small business associations for buying health insurance.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act; Bill HR 660 ; vote number 2003-296 on Jun 19, 2003

Voted YES on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits.

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA; Bill HR 5 ; vote number 2003-64 on Mar 13, 2003

Voted YES on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563 ; vote number 2001-329 on Aug 2, 2001

Voted YES on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage.

HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 4680 ; vote number 2000-357 on Jun 28, 2000

Voted YES on banning physician-assisted suicide.

Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 2260 ; vote number 1999-544 on Oct 27, 1999

Voted YES on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.

The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO; Bill HR 2990 ; vote number 1999-485 on Oct 6, 1999

Rated 11% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record.

Hunter scores 11% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Prohibit mandatory mental health screen for students.

Hunter co-sponsored prohibiting mandatory mental health screening for students

To prohibit the use of Federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening program.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Rep. PAUL: This bill forbids Federal funds from being used for any universal or mandatory mental health screening of students without the express, written, voluntary, informed consent of their parents or legal guardian. This bill protects the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children.

[A Congressional commission] recommends that universal or mandatory mental health screening first be implemented in public schools as a prelude to expanding it to the general public. However, neither the commission's report nor any related mental health screening proposal requires parental consent before a child is subjected to mental health screening. Federally-funded universal or mandatory mental health screening in schools without parental consent could lead to labeling more children as "ADD" or "hyperactive" and thus force more children to take psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, against their parents' wishes.

Many children have suffered harmful side effects from using psychotropic drugs. Some of the possible side effects include mania, violence, dependence, and weight gain. Yet, parents are already being threatened with child abuse charges if they resist efforts to drug their children. Imagine how much easier it will be to drug children against their parents' wishes if a Federally-funded mental health screener makes the recommendation.

Source: Parental Consent Act (H.R.2387 ) 07-HR2387 on May 17, 2007

Other candidates on Health Care: Duncan Hunter on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

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Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010