Democratic Presidential Nominee Kerry Addresses Health Care in Anticipation of New Census Report
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) on Tuesday "refocused his campaign" on "core domestic issues" such as health care, in a New York speech that marked a "pre-emptive shot" at next week's Republican National Convention in Manhattan, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, Kerry's return to health care issues is timed for the upcoming release of a Census Bureau report that is expected to show an increase in the number of uninsured (Broder, Washington Post, 8/25). Kerry has proposed a health care plan that would cost about $653 billion over 10 years and would expand health coverage to an estimated 26.7 million U.S. residents (California Healthline, 8/20). President Bush has proposed a plan to extend health care to 10 million uninsured U.S. residents at a cost of $102 billion over 10 years (California Healthline, 8/23). Kerry's speech began a pre-convention week of fund-raising and campaign appearances that will take him across the country to California.
Kerry, speaking at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, said that Republicans are "misleading the American people, hiding behind front groups, saying anything and doing anything to avoid the real issues that matter," including health care. Kerry added that the Bush administration has "neglected the crisis of health care" and is responsible for "four years of ... higher health care costs." Bush campaign spokesperson Steve Schmidt, in response to a separate fund-raiser in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, said Kerry's criticisms of an independent group that has run advertisements questioning his service in Vietnam shows the candidate is trying "to present himself as a victim as a way to avoid talking about the issues" (Washington Post, 8/25).
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest business lobbying group, plans to fund a political organization that will run ads "attack[ing]" Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) and trial lawyers for allegedly causing the rise of medical malpractice insurance rates and business health care costs, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports. According to Bloomberg/Times, Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney "have made more than two dozen speeches linking ... higher health care costs to the kind of personal-injury lawsuits" that Edwards litigated during his 20-year career as a trial lawyer. The Chamber of Commerce will spend millions of dollars to run the ads in seven states "where polls show a tight race between Kerry and Bush," Bloomberg/Times reports.
Bill Brock, a former Republican National Committee chair and senator who chairs the political group called the November Fund, said the ads will "tell the truth about the role John Edwards and the trial lawyers have played in driving up health care costs." Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, who says the chamber has never before been involved in a presidential election, said, "We cannot ignore what may prove to be a make-or-break election for legal reform at the national level. When voters go to the polls, they need to know lawsuit abuse destroys jobs, drives doctors out of business and forces companies into bankruptcy." Bush, who will not receive an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce, has said he supports medical malpractice reform. Kerry campaign spokesperson David Wade said the ads are an example of Bush "allowing shadowy outside groups to do his dirty work" (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 8/25).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.