DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION: Speakers Emphasize Health Care Issues
Hoisting the health care banner high Tuesday night, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) addressed delegates at the Democratic National Convention, hailing Vice President Al Gore and running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) as defenders of "progress -- not partisanship." Kennedy touted Gore's support for universal health care, health care for children, a Medicare "lock box," a prescription drug benefit and a patients' bill of rights, urging delegates to "dedicate [themselves] to elect Al Gore as the next president ... of the United States." He added, "Al Gore will not stop fighting ... until we have quality, affordable health care for all Americans." He cited Gore's bipartisan efforts with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.) on health insurance legislation. In addition, Kennedy highlighted the differences between Gore and rival Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) on health care. "Let there be no mistake about it. There is a profoundly deep difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees on this issue -- this life and death issue -- of health care for all Americans." He concluded, "[F]ight for Al Gore. Because he's fighting for you" (Kennedy speech text, ABC News, 8/15).
Health Care Splash
Several other speakers also tackled health care issues at the Democratic convention Tuesday. Excerpts from those addresses appear below.
- Former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley: Addressing America's uninsured, he said, "Tonight there are 44 million Americans without health insurance. That's 44 million Americans who can't take their sick baby to a doctor, who don't have anyone to attend to their dying parents, who can't get medical help so they can stay on the job ... The Democratic dream must include them and fulfill the promise of health care for all" (Bradley speech text, ABC News, 8/15);
- Rev. Jesse Jackson: He explained that the Gore and Lieberman would "use the surplus to bolster Medicare [and add a] prescription drug benefit. ... The Gore-Lieberman team says that money should make America stronger." Chiding Bush's record in Texas, he noted, "George Bush says, don't mess with Texas ... 1.5 million children live in poverty. Ten percent of the nation's poor, 500,000, are eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program but can't get it because of bureaucracy. Six hundred thousand eligible for Medicare but they can't get it ... Don't mess with Texas anymore. Don't mess with New York and California. Don't mess with Illinois. Don't mess with America" (Jackson speech text, ABC News, 8/15);
- Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.): Pointing out the importance of the health care issue, he said, "Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will ... strengthen Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit ... [and] pass a real patients' bill of rights" (Daschle speech text, ABC News, 8/15);
- Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg: Addressing the future of the Supreme Court and its impact on health care, she stated, "If we want a Supreme Court that ... will keep our personal financial and medical information from being up for grabs -- and will guarantee our right to make our own reproductive decisions -- then it is up to us ... to elect Al Gore and Joe Lieberman" (Schlossberg speech text, ABC News, 8/15);
- Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.): Touting a future with Gore and Lieberman in the White House, he asked delegates to "[i]magine a health care system where every American receives the medicine they need, and where no senior is forced to choose between buying food and filling a prescription. Imagine a society ... where Social Security and Medicare are strengthened ... for our children and grandchildren" (Ford speech text, ABC News, 8/15);
- Rep. Karen Thurman (D-Fla.): Stressing the need for increased Medicare spending, she noted, "Now we must use these surpluses wisely. ... We must strengthen Medicare by providing a Medicare prescription drug benefit. We cannot lose this opportunity" (Ross, St. Petersburg Times, 8/16);
- Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League: Highlighting the Gore-Lieberman commitment to abortion rights, she said, "A woman's right to choose took a century to win. But it could be lost in only one day -- Election Day. That's why we must elect Al Gore and Joe Lieberman ... Roe v. Wade placed a woman's right to choose where it belongs -- in the sacred constellation of constitutional freedoms. But today, that freedom hangs in the balance of a closely divided court" (Michelman speech text, 8/15).