Kerry Proposes Universal Health Care System
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in a speech on Monday proposed a plan to provide health insurance for all U.S. residents by 2012, "with the federal government guaranteeing they have the means to afford it," he said, the AP/Boston Herald reports (AP/Boston Herald, 7/31). Speaking at Boston's Faneuil Hall, Kerry -- who some speculate might run again for president in 2008 -- said lawmakers have not done enough to find a solution for the more than 45 million uninsured U.S. residents (Klein, Boston Globe, 8/1).
In the speech, Kerry renewed his call for many aspects of his 2004 presidential campaign health care proposal, urging that Medicaid be expanded to cover all children. He also proposed creating a program to cover catastrophic health care needs and offering U.S. residents the ability to purchase insurance plans through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (AP/Boston Herald, 7/31).
If some people still remained uninsured by 2012 after the plans had been implemented, Kerry would require Congress to re-examine the program and then make efforts to insure them, the Globe reports. Kerry's aides estimate that the plan would cost $653 billion over 10 years.
To pay for the program, he proposed repealing tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration for those with incomes over $200,000 annually. Kerry said the coverage guarantee would come through some kind of government mandate, although he added that it is too early to say how that would happen, according to the Globe (Boston Globe, 8/1).
"Every day since the election, the health care crisis has grown steadily worse," Kerry said, adding, "The president has stuck to his guns -- or, more accurately, his empty holster -- and done nothing beyond trotting out the conservative hobby horse of health savings accounts."
Tracey Schmitt, spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, said, "It's unfortunate that John Kerry's bitterness over losing the election clouds his ability to recognize the president's prescription drug plan is providing millions of seniors with more affordable medicine" (AP/Boston Herald, 7/31).