Kerry Wins Democratic Presidential Contests in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Tuesday won the Democratic presidential primary in Utah and caucuses in Idaho and Hawaii, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. With all precincts reporting in Utah, Kerry received 55% of the vote, while Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) had 30%. In Idaho, Kerry garnered 54% of the vote with all precincts reporting, and Edwards won 22%. With 99% of precincts reporting in Hawaii, Kerry received 50% of the vote, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) won 26%, and Edwards had 17% (Espo, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/25). There were 61 delegates at stake in the primaries -- 23 in Utah, 20 in Hawaii and 18 in Idaho (Seelye, New York Times, 2/25). Including delegates from Tuesday's contests, Kerry has a total of 663 delegates, Edwards has 199, the Rev. Al Sharpton (D) has 16 and Kucinich has eight. To be nominated, 2,162 delegates are required (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/25).
Medicare reform "remains a defining campaign issue" that highlights differences between Democrats and Republicans "if not between the leading Democratic candidates," the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. Both Kerry and Edwards characterize the Medicare prescription drug benefit law (HR 1) as "an egregious example of the power of corporate special interests in Washington," saying that while it creates a prescription drug benefit, it also gives private insurers "billions of dollars to lure seniors away from the traditional program and into managed care," according to the Times. Kerry called the law a "sham bill that gives the prescription drug companies a $139-billion benefit and counting." Edwards said that the law exemplifies the "two different governments in Washington" -- one for the "insiders and the lobbyists" who get "whatever they want" and another for everyone else. Consequently, the law gives "billions of taxpayer dollars" to HMOs instead of seniors, Edwards said. Kerry and Edwards also said that they would repeal sections of the law prohibiting the government from negotiating drug prices with manufacturers and from importing lower-priced, U.S.-made prescription drugs from Canada. Meanwhile, the Bush administration, which had planned to use the passage of Medicare reform on the campaign trail as a major domestic policy achievement, has had to defend it in the face of the administration's budget estimates showing that over the first 10 years the benefit will cost $134 billion more than the previous $400 billion estimate. The General Accounting Office is investigating charges that the $12.6 million advertising campaign and $10 million flier campaign intended to explain the provisions of the law are "more political than educational," the Times reports (Kemper, Los Angeles Times, 2/25).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.