Hartford Courant Examines Potential Impact of Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Proposals on Election
The Hartford Courant on Monday examined the health care plans proposed by President Bush and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and the "key question: Will either plan matter on Election Day?" (MacDonald, Hartford Courant, 7/19). Bush has proposed a plan that would cost about $90.5 billion over 10 years and would extend health coverage to an estimated 2.1 million U.S. residents. Kerry has proposed a plan that would cost $653 billion over 10 years and would expand health coverage to an estimated 26.7 million residents. Kerry has said that he would help finance the plan with the repeal of tax cuts for families whose annual incomes exceed $200,000 (California Healthline, 7/7).
According to political analyst Bruce Freed, Kerry has merged his health care proposal into a broader economic message that focuses on the "middle-class squeeze" to appeal to voters in swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, where residents are more likely to vote based on economic issues. Bush, however, has discussed his health care plan "only in passing" on the campaign trail and "has been content" to propose "narrowly focused plans" to address the issue of the uninsured since the enactment of the new Medicare law last year, the Courant reports. Kenneth Thorpe, an Emory University professor of health policy, said that health care "is likely to be the biggest area of policy difference between these two campaigns, both in terms of the impact the proposals would have, the structure of the proposals and the financing of the proposals." Although Kerry represents the "clear choice" for voters most concerned about the issue of the uninsured, recent polls have found that health care ranks a "distant fourth" among voter concerns after Iraq, terrorism and the general economy, the Courant reports (Hartford Courant, 7/19).
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Sunday reported that the issue of the uninsured has not become a "major issue" in the presidential election as some political analysts had predicted. The segment includes comments from Stuart Altman, health economist and professor of national health policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University; Sarah Bianchi, policy director for Kerry; Bush; health policy consultant and former Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.); and Kerry (Rovner, "All Things Considered," NPR, 7/18). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.