Kerry Uses Bible Themes To Address Health Care Positions in Campaign Stop
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) on Sunday presented a "broad vision of social justice, including care for the poor and those without health insurance" that is "at the root of his religion and would guide his presidency," the Washington Times reports. According to the Washington Times, Kerry, who is Roman Catholic, said everyone in society has a moral obligation to each other, citing the biblical verse: "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me" (Dinan, Washington Times, 10/25).
Kerry, who addressed members of the Mount Hermon A.M.E. Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a separate Florida audience, used the statements to "answe[r]" some Catholic bishops who have said it would be a sin to vote for the Democrat because he supports abortion rights and expanded federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, the New York Times reports. "I know there are some bishops who have suggested that as a public official I must cast votes or take public positions on issues like a woman's right to choose or stem-cell research that carry out the tenets of the Catholic Church," Kerry said, adding, "I love my church; I respect the bishops; but I respectfully disagree" (Halbfinger/Sanger, New York Times, 10/25).
With Kerry and some Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), pushing "the idea of fighting high health insurance costs" by reducing the financial burden on employers when their workers' medical bills exceed a certain threshold, "lawmakers and lobbyists say that regardless of who wins the presidential election," Congress soon will take up the issue, the New York Times reports. According to supporters of the idea known as reinsurance, without such reform, more companies will reduce or eliminate worker health coverage.
The Times reports that lawmakers disagree on the details of how to implement such reform. Kerry has proposed that the federal government assume 75% of the cost of a worker's medical expenses beyond about $30,000 in 2006 and about $50,000 by 2013. Kerry has said his plan would reduce health insurance premiums by 10%, and he would pay for the plan by rolling back tax cuts implemented by Bush for people with incomes of more than $200,000 annually. According to the Bush campaign, Kerry's proposal "would merely shift existing costs from premium-payers to taxpayers -- some $290 billion over nine years." Frist has proposed a federally chartered but privately run reinsurance organization that he said "would help insurers more broadly share risk, reduce administrative costs and create a vibrant secondary market for health insurance." The Times reports that the plan is in an "early form [and] cost estimates are not available." The Bush campaign did not comment on the Frist proposal (Freudenheim/Pear, New York Times, 10/23).
The following newspapers and broadcast program recently examined the differences between the Bush and Kerry plans and how the candidates are using health care to differentiate themselves.
Detroit News: Bush and Kerry have "vastly different plans" for health care, an issue that has drawn "much of the candidates' attention" during the past week, as each has "attacked" the other's plan as either "insufficient or unaffordable," the News reports (Bethel/Ryan, Detroit News, 10/24).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: As Bush and Kerry "tiptoe around health care reform," the candidates have revealed "some of their sharpest differences" on an issue that has "finally emerged from the shadows of war and terrorism in this presidential race," the Star Tribune reports (Lopez, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/22).
New York Times: The Times examines the "philosophical contrast" between Bush and Kerry on domestic policies, including Medicare, noting that it is "one of the starkest in modern presidential campaigns" (Rosenbaum/Toner, New York Times, 10/24).
Philadelphia Inquirer: The Inquirer examines the reaction of business executives and health care industry experts to Bush and Kerry's plans to lower health insurance costs (Goldstein, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/24).
Philadelphia Inquirer: The Inquirer reports on the differences between Kerry's and Bush's statements on health care and examines how their "distill[ed]" rhetoric on "such hot-button issues" often "bend[s] the facts" (Kuhnhenn/Douglas, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/25).
Philadelphia Inquirer: According to the Inquirer, although Bush and Kerry "both want to continue expanding" federal health centers, which are "central to the nation's safety net," the candidates "differ sharply on how to treat the clinics' largest block of customers: those with little or no insurance" (Uhlman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/25).
- WBUR's "The Connection" on Monday in the first hour of the broadcast in the first of a five-part series on how U.S. residents are selecting a presidential candidate will discuss seniors' concerns about health care. Guests on the program are scheduled to include Henry Aaron, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; Jim Callahan, AARP Massachusetts Executive Council executive advocacy volunteer; and Bill Toomey, retired Peabody City councilor (Gordon, "The Connection," WBUR, 10/25). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
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