Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Other Speakers Address Health Care at Democratic National Convention
Dozens of speakers -- including former President Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former Vice President Al Gore -- at the Democratic National Convention on Monday said presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry's (Mass.) economic policies will help control health care costs "while expanding medical coverage to working families," CBS' MarketWatch reports (Watts/Daly, CBS MarketWatch, 7/27). Rodham Clinton in a speech introducing her husband called on the nation to "re-dedicate ourselves to the task of providing health care coverage for 44 million Americans who don't have it." Rodham Clinton said Kerry would "solve a health care crisis for our people, not ignore it." Referring to her health care reform efforts during her husband's first term, she said, "I know a thing or two about health care. ... [T]he problems have only gotten worse in the last four years." She also advocated reducing health care costs; lifting President Bush's ban on expanding stem cell research; and increasing benefits for the National Guard and Reserves (New York Times, 7/27). Former President Clinton said at the convention that Bush allowed tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of citizens, including Clinton himself, while "dramatically raising out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans." Clinton added that Bush's policies divided the United States along economic boundaries, "leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security." Clinton said that the "21st century is marked by serious ... threats," including the spread of HIV/AIDS. Citing the growth of the biotechnology market among other possible economic advances, he said that it is also a time of "amazing opportunities" that could lead to global economic prosperity (New York Times, 7/27).
According to pollster John Zogby, universal health coverage is a top priority for voters. Zogby said, "Voters in total, and in particular Democrats, see that pool of uninsured and say to themselves, 'That could be me.' It's universality. It's cost. It's prescription drugs." While the Democratic health care platform "is designed for wide appeal," it will be a "challenge" for Kerry to translate "this complex set of ideas into a comprehensive and appealing message," according to CQ Today. The platform includes plans to expand coverage for the uninsured; implement a safe reimportation policy; use the government's purchasing power to buy drugs for Medicare; and keep health care costs down (Carey, CQ Today, 7/26). Bush has said Kerry's health care plans would raise taxes on all U.S. residents, while Kerry has said he would preserve the recent tax cuts for those earning less than $200,000 annually (MarketWatch, 7/27). Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) on Thursday will chair the Democrats' "Health Issues 2004" forum, focusing on last year's Medicare law, the uninsured and health care costs. The forum is co-sponsored by Families USA and Americans for Health Care, which is part of the Service Employees International Union (CQ Today, 7/26).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.