House Candidates Clash over Health Care, Drug Imports

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Byline: James Fuller Daily Herald Staff Writer

Illinois state House candidates for the 95th District contrast starkly on education, prescription drugs and medical malpractice.

Incumbent Republican Randy Hultgren said his opponent, Democrat Dirk Enger, is taking a serious risk in backing prescription drug imports from Canada.

"We're talking about a plan where there's no checks on where that medication came from or how it was prepared," Hultgren said. "I'm not prepared to leave that up to a foreign country."

Hultgren favors putting heat on drug companies to loosen their hold on patents, so more generic drug equivalents can potentially lower prices.

Enger supports generic drugs but said ruling out Canadian imports because of safety issues is just kowtowing to the drug companies.

"People up north are already getting on trains and buses to go out of the country for their medicine," Enger said. "If Canada is so bad, why are we now going to them for the flu shot?"

The Food and Drug Administration is examining a deal Illinois is trying to broker with Canada for 80,000 flu shots for senior citizens.

Hultgren counters that prescription drugs are just one factor of skyrocketing medical costs. The bigger solution, he said, must involve some type of cap on medical malpractice jury awards.

"It's a national joke that attorneys will come and file cases in Illinois because they know how pro-plaintiff some of our courtrooms are," he said.

Hultgren isn't sure what the cap should be, perhaps as much as $2 million with a built-in cost-of-living increase. …