Overland Park Differing views on health care legislation were highlighted during the second of four debates for congressional candidates in the 3rd District.
Incumbent Dennis Moore, a Democrat seeking a third term, faces a challenge from Republican Adam Taff, whose candidacy has been pushed by Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-profile figures including former Sen. Bob Dole.
Appearing with the two Sunday at the Jewish Community Center were Doug Martin, the Libertarian candidate, and Dawn Bly of the Reform Party.
Moore and Taff both back health-care reform but disagree on the details.
Moore voted against a $310 billion Republican-sponsored prescription drug bill for the elderly that passed the House but is stalled now in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Taff supports the measure.
Moore said he wants benefits to go directly to seniors through the Medicare system and objected to provisions allowing insurance companies to design the benefits.
"That was a subsidy to insurance companies," he said. "You can't vote for a bad plan just because it's there."
Moore also favors more generous benefits than provided by the House bill, which has a $250 deductible provision not in the Senate version.
Taff does not object to health insurance plans being involved. He said they would be able to provide more options under the House bill than a one-size-fits-all benefit through Medicare.
Of Moore's description of the measure as a bad bill, Taff said, "Well, where is a better bill? We've been talking about this for six years."
Moore said in an interview Friday that he liked the more generous benefits of a bill proposed by Senate Democrats but that the $425 billion price tag is too high. But he would not indicate which of the benefits in the Senate version he would reduce.
Martin and Bly said in the debate that it was not the role of the federal government to establish a prescription drug entitlement program.
Taff wants the government to issue prescription drug discount cards to seniors even before Congress passes a comprehensive prescription drug benefit package. Moore opposes that, calling it a makeshift approach, and Martin and Bly don't support it either.
Moore and Taff are split on how to provide health insurance to the 42 million Americans who have no coverage. Taff favors a combination of tax credits and expanding the Medicaid program, while Moore is opposed to the tax-credit approach.