With WA Race Too Close to Call, Senate Makeup Unclear
With one race too close to call, the partisan makeup of the Senate remains unclear, the Washington Post reports. As of Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report's press time, Republicans have lost four seats and Democrats have picked up three, for a total of 50 and 49 seats, respectively. Washington state's battle between former Rep. Maria Cantwell (D) and incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton (R) is still undeclared. With 97% of precincts reporting, Cantwell and Gorton each had 49% of the vote, meaning a decision in the race will hinge on absentee ballots that may not be fully counted for days (CNN.com, 11/8). Below, a summary of results in races where health care played a pivotal role in the campaign.
- Delaware: Gov. Thomas Carper (D) defeated Sen. William Roth (R-Del.), taking 56% of the vote, compared to Roth's 44% (CNN.com, 11/8). Roth, the Senate Finance Committee Chair, was instrumental in the Medicare prescription drug benefit debate, proposing a bill (S. 3017) that would initially deliver a benefit through the states to those seniors meeting certain income requirements (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/11). Roth also was involved in discussions about the Medicaid loophole -- through which states pay local- or county-owned provider facilities more than the actual cost of services, receive inflated matching funds from the federal government, and then require providers to return the extra state funds while pocketing the extra federal funds -- and recently proposed that the loophole be closed within two years (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/23). Carper also campaigned on the Medicare prescription drug issue, advocating a voluntary benefit that would offer all seniors an uncapped benefit administered through the private sector. He also supports the Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill (H.R. 2723) (www.carperforsenate2000.com).
- New Jersey: Jon Corzine (D), who backs "huge spending increases" for health care, defeated Rep. Bob Franks (R), grabbing 51% of the vote to Franks' 48% (CNN.com, 11/8). On health care issues, Corzine favors a prescription drug benefit under Medicare and supports comprehensive patients' rights legislation that would extend access to specialists and emergency room care, prevent insurance companies from restricting the treatments doctors can discuss with patients and allow patients to appeal insurance companies' and HMOs' decisions to an external review board and sue for injuries or deaths resulting from denial of care. He also backs an agenda of universal health care, favoring legislation that would force employers to provide health insurance to employees through payroll plans, expand CHIP program to the families of low-income children, offer tax credits to self-employed Americans to purchase health insurance and allow people ages 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare. In addition, Corzine supports a woman's right to choose and opposes parental consent and notification laws and a ban on "partial-birth" abortion (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/31).
- New York: In the race for retiring Sen. Patrick Moynihan's (D-N.Y.) seat, which featured a battle over health care issues, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) knocked off rival Rep. Rick Lazio (R), winning 56% to 44% (CNN.com). On health care issues, Clinton supports a drug benefit for seniors under the Medicare program and favors measures that would extend access to specialists and allow patients to appeal HMO care denials. She also backs plans to allow people ages 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare, to extend the CHIP program to provide more children with coverage and to grant tax incentives and credits to small businesses that offer health insurance to employees. On the abortion issue, while Clinton supports a woman's right to choose, she favors a ban on "partial-birth" abortion, except in cases where the woman's health is endangered (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/31).
- Pennsylvania: Incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum (R) coasted past challenger Rep. Ron Klink (D), winning 53% to 46% (CNN.com, 11/8). On health care issues, Santorum backs a prescription drug benefit through government subsidies to private health plans and legislation that would extend access to specialists, prevent insurance companies from restricting treatments that doctors can discuss with patients and allow patients to receive emergency room care without prior authorization. He also favors a $1,000 tax credit for Americans without employee-sponsored coverage to purchase health insurance and supports medical savings accounts. On abortion, Santorum supports a ban on "partial-birth" abortion (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/31).
- Rhode Island: Incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) sailed past challenger Bob Weygand (D), capturing 57% of the vote to his opponent's 42% (CNN.com, 11/8). On health care issues, Chafee supports a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. He also backs patients' rights legislation that would extend access to specialists and emergency room care, prevent health plans and insurance companies from making medical decisions and allow patients to sue HMOs and insurance firms. To help the uninsured, Chafee supports increased federal funding for health care and backs measures that would provide hospitals with higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates and the CHIP program. In addition, Chafee supports a woman's right to choose (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/31).
- Virginia: Former Gov. George Allen (R) defeated two-term Sen. Chuck Robb (D) by a margin of 52% to 48% (CNN.com, 11/8). Allen supports a private-sector prescription drug plan for seniors and a bill that would give patients the right to sue HMOs after consulting independent review boards. He opposes late-term abortions and publicly funded abortions (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/1).
- Michigan: Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D) defeated incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham (R) 49% to 48% (C-SPAN.org), becoming the state's first female U.S. Senator (AP/Washington Post, 11/8). Stabenow supports using group purchasing power to lower medication costs for seniors, adding a drug benefit under Medicare and the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights, which gives patients the right to sue their HMOs for denying treatment (www.stabenow2000.net). She also supports abortion rights, having voted in the House against a partial-birth abortion ban.
- Minnesota: Former state auditor Mark Dayton (D) won 49% of the popular vote to defeat incumbent Sen. Rod Grams (R), who earned 44%. Independent James Gibson garnered 6% (CNN.com, 11/8). On health issues, Dayton supports a Medicare drug benefit for all seniors and wants the federal government to negotiate lower prices for "all Americans." Dayton also favors patients' right to appeal denied treatment to an outside review board, "better access" to specialists and the right to hold HMOs accountable for "their action." He calls for "immediate health care coverage for all Americans" for the uninsured. He also supports abortion rights, but has said he opposes "partial-birth" abortion "unless the life or health of the mother" is at stake (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/2).
- Missouri: "In one of the most bizarre episodes in U.S. political history," deceased Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan defeated incumbent Sen. John Ashcroft (R) in Missouri's U.S. Senate race, Reuters English News Service reports (Gillam, Reuters English News Service, 11/8). Carnahan took 51% of the vote, while Ashcroft pulled in 49% (CNN.com, 11/8). Carnahan died in a plane crash Oct. 16, "too late to remove his name from the ballot," Reuters reports. Instead, Carnahan's widow Jean will "likely" take the seat. Last week, she said she would accept an appointment by new Gov. Roger Wilson (D) to take her husband's place (Reuters English News Service, 11/8). During his campaign, Carnahan ran several health care issue ads. During one, he promised to "work to strengthen Medicare and fight for the strong prescription drug plan that our seniors need" (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 7/31). In another ad, Carnahan criticized Ashcroft's "poor record" on Medicare. That spot featured Max Richtman, executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 7/11).
- California: Incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) defeated Rep. Tom Campbell (R), garnering 57% of the vote compared to Campbell's 37% (CNN.com, 11/8). The candidates clashed over health care. Feinstein supports a voluntary prescription drug benefit funded by the non-Social Security surplus and available to all beneficiaries. She also supports a "comprehensive" patients' bill of rights such as the House-passed Norwood-Dingell measure, and calls herself "disappointed" with the version passed by the Senate, which covers only the self-insured. Feinstein advocates expanding Medicaid and the CHIP program, including allowing families who have disabled children but do not meet income requirements to buy into Medicaid; allowing people with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage for expenses not covered by their regular insurance; covering parents of children enrolled in the CHIP program or Medicaid through higher federal matching payments; and doing more to "reach out to" CHIP-eligible children (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/3).
- Nevada: Former Rep. John Ensign (R) defeated trial lawyer Ed Bernstein (D), garnering 56% of the vote to Bernstein's 40% (CNN.com, 11/8). On health care issues, Ensign supports a voluntary plan to give group-negotiated prescription drug discounts to seniors; "independent appeals" instead of legal remedies for patients' rights; and tax incentives for the uninsured to purchase health coverage. He opposes abortion except for in cases of rape or incest, and opposes all federal funding of abortion (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/3).
- Montana: Two-term Sen. Conrad Burns (R) won re-election over Brian Schweitzer, the previously unknown Democratic challenger, 51% to 48% (CNN.com, 11/8). Prescription drugs played a large role in the campaign, with Schweitzer organizing bus trips to Canada and Mexico for seniors to buy cheaper prescription drugs. In the end, however, the vote went to Burns, who voted for a bill permitting the reimportation of U.S.-made drugs from overseas (S. 1191) but opposes price controls on prescription drugs. Burns has also voted to ban "partial-birth" abortions and to disallow privately funded abortions by U.S. service members and their families in overseas U.S. military hospitals, and has said "that many Montanans choose not to have health insurance" (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 11/3).