CPAAHC says press politicians on health care issues
by Tim Walters

(Plain Press, November 2006) Each year during various elections, we hear a great deal from all candidates about what they will do for us. All too often, this is long on promises and increasingly short on details. To help fill this void on detail, CPAAHC (Community Partners for Affordable Accessible Health Care has been developing our own Health Care Agenda outlining what we see as key health care issues on both the Federal and State level and sending this to those running for office. Our intent is to educate those who may be representing us as to key health care issues along with recommended actions. At least then they can no longer get away with saying, I have never heard of the problem. .

We also put together a candidate’s survey, which asked questions about key health care issues and how the candidate would respond to those issues.  About 6 weeks ago we sent our survey to both candidates for Governor and area candidates running for legislative office at both the state and federal level.

Candidates who did not reply unfortunately outnumber those who did reply. CPAAHC hopes you will note both the questions asked and the answers provided and continue to ask candidates and the eventual winners these same questions in the days, weeks and months to come.

CPAAHC feels it is critical we address the issue of affordable accessible health care before, during and after any election period.  Many have seen protection stripped away or vastly reduced as our elected officials make decisions, pass laws and approve budgets.  CPAAHC believes we must make Health Care a key point of any conversation no matter how brief with our elected officials and let them know the consequences people have suffered for decisions made. CPAAHC plans to keep the pressure on, it is the only way change will come.

Tim Walters is a Community Organizer at the May Dugan Center and Chair of Community Partners for Affordable Accessible Health Care


COMMUNITY PARTNERS FOR AFFORDABLE ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE

The last budget passed in Ohio reduced parents eligibility for Medicaid from 100% of poverty to 90% of poverty.  It is estimated that parents in Cuyahoga County and state wide will lose medical coverage as a result.

1.)  If elected, what will you do to restore this to 100% in the next budget process?
    1a.) Would you also support increasing this coverage to 200% of poverty?
                 If your answer is yes, how would you make this happen?
                 If your answer is no, would you explain your reason.


Lewis Katz ( D) U.S Representative 14th District; State issue

Dennis Kucinich (D) Congressman; Though that decision was made at the level of State Government, I will continue to fight for full Medicaid funding and oppose Medicaid waivers that reduce the number of the uninsured. I would support expanding coverage beyond those at 200% of Federal Poverty Level as a short-term initiative. The real solution is full, high quality coverage for all, as embodied in the bill I have coauthored with Rep. Conyers, MX 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act

Rep.Lance T. Mason ( D) Candidate for State Senate, District 25- I have previously supported 100% of poverty and will continue to support it.  If you need to see the consequences of such a decision, but it is a priority to me to help those in need.  I have record that demonstrates this commitment.

State Senator Dale Miller (D) - I support immediate increase in parent eligibility back to 100% and support increasing eligibility to 200% as quickly as possible by canceling further reduction in state income tax to strengthen Ohio’s tax base

Beverly Valencic (R) Candidate for State Representative District 7- No, No budget does not allow.


2.) As an elected official, would you oppose any effort at the Federal Level to change the entitlement status of Medicaid?

Katz- Yes

Mason- I would resist federal changes to reduce those who would be eligible for Medicaid.

Miller- I would oppose any federal attempt to eliminate Medicaid entitlement status and would do so through communication with Ohio’s federal Representatives and Senators

Valencic- No, look at the truly indigent.
  

If yes, how do you see yourself as being the most effective in this area?

Mason- I ran Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones office and have a relationship in which I can work in her office.
     

If no, would you explain your reason?

Katz- We cannot allow the federal government to pass off authority to the state because the State will lower the standard of care and number covered.

Kucinich- I will continue to help organize my colleagues to oppose any erosion of Medicaid benefits.


3.) Would you support legislation to fill the gap in coverage (donut hole) created by Medicare Part D?


Katz-  Yes

Mason- Yes

3a.) How would you protect Ohioans from the extra costs that will come from this gap in coverage?

Katz- Require Medicare to negotiate favorable drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and save enough money to close or reduce the doughnut hole.

Kucinich- I have supported legislation to close Medicare Part D “donut hole” and will continue to do so.  I will fight an overhaul of the drug plan that puts our seniors and disabled ahead of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

Mason- Create a prescription drug benefit such as Ohio Best RX

Miller- I support legislation to fill the gap in Medicaid Part D. On the state level, I would do so by supporting the Healthcare for All Ohioans Act.

Valencic- Not to taxpayers


4.) Would you co-sponsor the reintroduction of Ohio HB 225 (this bill establishes mental health parity)?

Katz- Absolutely

Kucinich- Not Applicable.  Although I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1402 the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act, which establishes mental health parity.

Mason- Yes

Miller- I will cosponsor the reintroduction of the mental health parity bill and will actively work for it.

Valencic- yes

Over the past 20 years, we have seen an ongoing erosion of health care services for low income adults without dependents.  For example the Disability Medical Assistance Program has been reduced from about 30,000 participants 4 years ago to around 3,000 now.

5.) Would you support the use of state funds to provide basic health coverage to the population formerly served by this program?

Mason- Yes

Valencic-No


5a.)What do you see as a first stepping in allocating state funds for this purpose?

Kucinich- N/A
      
Mason- Negotiations during the budget process

Miller- I support substantially increasing funding to restore coverage for Disability Medical Assistance.

Valencic-not available


6.) How should we address the issue of access to affordable health care for adults without dependents who are uninsured?  Please include specific steps that should occur to enable affordable access to health care for adults without dependents who are uninsured.


Katz- Allow small businesses to buy into Medicare system.  Work to establish single payer plan for all Americans

Kucinich- We should expand and improve Medicare so that everyone is covered for all medically necessary procedures.  Doing so would give us higher quality, with control over skyrocketing costs, and choice of any doctor.

Mason- Universal Healthcare

Miller-As an interim step toward universal health insurance, the State of Ohio should provide a health insurance program for the lowest income people who don’t have access to other programs.
Valencic- provide for


A recent trend has been to establish cost sharing on a variety of programs including prescription drugs.  In the last budget, this resulted in co-pays put in place for dental, vision and some prescription drugs.  While the amount seems small (2 to 3 dollars), this is beyond the ability to pay of most low-income people.

7.) Do you believe this is a direction that should continue?
If yes, why?
If no,  how will you bring about change?


Katz- Reasonable co pays are necessary to keep healthcare costs reasonable.  Emphasis should be on wellness care.

Kucinich- the shifting of costs from the highly profitable and inefficient healthcare corporations to people who are already struggling because of the rising costs of healthcare is simply unacceptable.  I will continue to oppose this cost shifting in Congress by working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Mason- No.  I support Universal Healthcare and prescription drug benefit

Miller- I support the elimination of co pays for low income Medicaid participants.  When you consider the costs of administration, I don’t think the co-pays bring in a great deal of revenue.

Valencic- state of economy/affairs


8.) Would you support a system in Ohio that provides health care for all Newcomers to the country regardless of their legal status?

Katz- Probably not, except for children and emergency care.

Kucinich- Yes.  H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act provides healthcare coverage for all residents of the U.S.

Mason- No.  I believe you should be here legally.

Miller- I support the Healthcare for All Ohioans Act and a national universal health care program.  We are behind the rest of the world.  I would support the expansion of Medicaid eligibility and Medicare buys in as useful interim measures.

Valencic- no


There are many options on how to provide health care access to all in this country.
Which of these do you support and how will you work to make it happen in Ohio?

    *Expansion of Medicaid eligibility-Katz  Mason ( with limitations)
    *Medicare buy-in for those under 65-Katz, Mason
      *Universal Coverage- Katz, Mason
    *National Health Care Plan Mason
     *Others

Kucinich- As mentioned, I support Medicare for All, a nation health care plan.  Until then, I support stopgap measures such as the expansion of Medicaid eligibility.  I also support an emphasis on the prevention of chronic diseases like cancer and obesity as a way to improve quality of life and save money at the same time.  I support universal access to critical scientific information about the Avian Flu order to make vaccines more effective and rapidly deployed.  I support restoring competition in pharmaceutical sales as a way to end monopolies that encourage astronomical process, declining innovation and corruption of science.  I support requiring non-profit hospitals to perform the requisite charity care in order to provide the service to the community as required by law.  I support the integration of complementary and alternative medicine into western medicine.

 

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