Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry Offers Medicare, Social Security Plan
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) on Monday unveiled his "Compact With the Greatest Generation," a plan to ensure the future of Medicare and Social Security and to make prescription drug coverage more accessible to seniors, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. Speaking at a senior center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Kerry said he would oppose Medicare premium increases and benefit cutbacks, would not force recipients into HMO plans, would expand Medicaid coverage for alternatives to nursing home care, and would "cut the greed out of prescription drugs to make them more affordable." Kerry also said he would ensure that nursing homes are adequately inspected and that health care professionals receive more training (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/7). Kerry promised to provide seniors with the same quality of health insurance that members of Congress receive (Healy, Boston Globe, 10/7). He added that the generation that was victorious in World War II, led the civil-rights movement and created programs like Medicare has "earned the best of America, and we need to make sure you get the protection and health care you deserve" (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 10/7). "I'm not going to use Medicare as a means to balance the budget ... on the back[s] of seniors," Kerry said.
Kerry also continued to criticize fellow presidential candidate and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D), who Kerry said supported an effort led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in 1995 to reduce federal Medicare spending (Roos, Des Moines Register, 10/7). As chair of the National Governors Association, Dean supported the measure, which would have decreased Medicare spending growth by about $260 billion over seven years if it had not been vetoed by former President Bill Clinton (D), Kerry and fellow presidential candidate Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) have said (California Healthline, 10/1).
In related news, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) on Monday evening announced that he was ending his presidential campaign, making him the first of the 10 Democratic candidates to drop out of the race, the Washington Post reports. "I have made the judgment I cannot be elected," Graham said in an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live" (Broder, Washington Post, 10/7). Graham's campaign efforts were delayed by heart surgery, his duties on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the war in Iraq, and he trailed his rivals in campaign fundraising, which "proved fatal to the campaign," the New York Times reports (Cardwell, New York Times, 10/7). Graham did not endorse any of his Democratic opponents and said he would decide "very soon" whether to seek a fourth Senate term (CongressDaily/AM, 10/7).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.