Newspapers Feature Presidential Candidates’ Health Care Proposals
Two recent articles examined the health plans proposed by President Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). 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 about $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 Bush's tax cuts for families whose annual incomes exceed $200,000 (California Healthline, 7/22).
CQ Today: While polls show voters "trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care issues," the Bush campaign "plans to go after the health care issue" in an attempt to change the "public's perception of which party is stronger on health care matters," CQ Today reports. David Winston, president of the Winston Group and "favored pollster of House and Senate Republicans," said that Republicans have trailed Democrats in health care polls over the past five to eight years by as much as 25 percentage points, but more recent polling has found the GOP now trails by 15 percentage points to 17 percentage points, CQ Today reports. According to CQ Today, Republican party officials say last year's passage of the new Medicare law has "narrow[ed] the gap," and Republicans plan to "emphasize" the Medicare bill and other "market-based health care initiatives" at the Republican National Convention in New York City. Megan Hauck, deputy policy director for the Bush campaign, said, "We've got a health care agenda and we're going to talk about it. This is not a Democratic issue. It's an issue to address, and we have" (Carey, CQ Today, 8/4).
- Wall Street Journal: Kerry's choice as vice presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) -- a former trial lawyer who "made a fortune suing doctors and others for medical malpractice" -- has become a "lightening rod in a well-financed doctor's campaign against the Democratic ticket," the Journal reports. While Kerry has said he would "surprise physicians by moving on medical liability suits," Bush has charged that Kerry is trying to be "pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial lawyer at the same time," according to the Journal. Many doctors support Bush's proposed malpractice reforms, which include a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages; allowing payments of awards over longer time periods; and reducing doctors' damages by the amount of money the patient received from an insurer on the same claim, the Journal reports. Kerry's plan includes requiring a specialist to certify a malpractice suit before it can proceed and using mandatory sanctions to discourage lawyers who frequently bring frivolous lawsuits, but he opposes caps on damages. Doctors for Medical Liability Reform, an umbrella organization of the medical specialties most often sued for malpractice, this year plans to spend $10 million on efforts in support of a cap on noneconomic damage awards in malpractice cases. While "many doctors" also support Kerry -- 4,751 doctors have given $2.5 million to Kerry, compared with 4,838 doctors who have donated $3.2 million to Bush's campaign -- the "anti-Edwards sentiment" among doctors is "of particular concern to the Kerry campaign," the Journal reports. "What you have here is doctors' enormous frustration over not being able to get [malpractice reform] through the legislative process," Mark Isakowitz, a Republican lobbyist who works on health care issues, said. He added, "And along comes John Edwards to personify the whole thing: A guy who got rich on medical-malpractice cases and used that wealth to catapult himself into the Senate" (Greenberger, Wall Street Journal, 8/5).
CBS' "Evening News" on Wednesday reported on the role of health care in the presidential election campaign. The segment includes comments from Kerry and U.S. residents (Axelrod, "Evening News," CBS, 8/3). 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.