Democratic Presidential Candiate Sen. John Kerry Promotes Health Care Proposal in Pennsylvania
Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in Pennsylvania on Sunday promoted his health care plan, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Kerry said that under the Bush administration, more than one million people each year have lost health care coverage, while average health care premiums paid by families with employer coverage have increased by $793 a year. Kerry added that the "millions and millions" of people facing high medical bills have been "ignored." Kerry said voters "are hungry for a real discussion" of issues like health care and jobs, adding that they "don't need misleading attacks, they need meaningful answers" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 3/15). That comment referred to a Republican television advertisement contending that Kerry is "secretly planning" to raise taxes by $900 billion to pay for his health care plan, the Wall Street Journal reports. Kerry denied the charge, saying it is "100% wrong" (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 3/15). Under Kerry's plan, the federal government would assume all Medicaid costs for children to insulate the program from frequent state budget cuts, and states would be required to automatically enroll all eligible children. States and the federal government would then share the cost of expanding coverage to children in families earning up to three times the federal poverty level and to all parents earning up to twice the poverty level. The federal government would also assume 75% of medical costs above $50,000 annually for insured patients' care on the condition that insurers pass on those savings to employers and workers. The proposal would provide additional subsidies to low-income adults and small businesses (California Healthline, 3/1). According to an early analysis by Kenneth Thorpe, a former health official under the Clinton administration who is now at Emory University, the plan would cost $895 billion over 10 years and would reduce the number of uninsured -- currently 43 million -- by 26.7 million. Thorpe said the estimate does not account for savings that might result from Kerry's emphasis on information technology and disease management. Kerry said that he would pay for the plan in part by restoring higher tax rates for people earning more than $200,000 a year, which he said would yield about $300 billion in revenue over 10 years. He also suggested canceling recent changes in estate-tax laws and corporate subsidy plans (Wall Street Journal, 3/15). Steve Schmidt, a spokesperson for Bush's reelection campaign, said, "[Kerry] never passed a major piece of health care legislation during his 19 years in the U.S. Senate" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 3/15).
Meanwhile, Kerry on Saturday reached the number of Democratic delegates to become the party's official nominee in the general election, according to an Associated Press tally, the AP/Tallahassee Democrat reports. Kerry reached the required 2,162 delegate mark through the support of "superdelegates," people who get a vote at the July convention because of their influence within the party, and his delegate tally was further boosted by an "easy victory" in Kansas, where he won 72% of the vote, according to the AP/Democrat (Armas, AP/Tallahassee Democrat, 3/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.