Health policies highlight Kerry and Bush differences, analysts say

  1. health policies highlight kerry and bush differences, analysts say

    nowhere are the policy differences between john kerry and president bush more apparent, health analysts say, than on what to do about rising healthcare costs and lack of insurance.



    new york times, may 14, 2004
    political memo
    biggest divide? maybe it's health care

    by robin toner

    ashington, may 13- senator john kerry has spent this week campaigning relentlessly on the problems in the nation's health care system and maintaining that president bush has failed to address them. the bush campaign has countered furiously, saying mr. kerry's proposals are far too expensive and would inevitably lead to government micromanagement of private health care.

    this is not just another exercise in partisan maneuvering. nowhere are the policy differences between mr. kerry and mr. bush more apparent, health analysts say, than on what to do about rising health costs and the growing number of americans without insurance.

    few dispute the extent of the problem. after several years of stability in the mid-1990's, the cost of coverage is soaring again. premiums were up an average of 13.9 percent last year, the third consecutive year of double-digit increases. more and more small businesses say they are staggering under the strain.

    the number of americans without insurance, meanwhile, has jumped to 43.6 million, according to a census report last fall, and more than a fifth are children.

    mr. kerry argued this week that those problems had worsened on mr. bush's watch.

    "george bush has had four years to offer america a real health care plan, and he hasn't," the senator declared wednesday in orlando, fla.

    republicans say that they are, in fact, responding: senate republicans stepped forward tuesday to endorse a package of tax measures - including mr. bush's main proposal - aimed at the uninsured.

    but the bush and kerry plans differ substantially in cost, the number of uninsured they hope to cover, the methods they would use and the underlying philosophy. health care analysts say the difference in scale alone is striking.

    one expert on health, robert d. reischauer, president of the urban institute, said, "the president's proposals remain very modest, while senator kerry is willing to make health a major priority of his administration."

    mr. bush's main proposal for the uninsured would cost $70 billion over 10 years. it would give a new tax credit to low- and moderate-income families to help them buy health insurance. the proposal, first unveiled in the 2000 campaign but never enacted, would provide up to $1,000 for individuals and $3,000 for families. the administration estimates it would benefit 4.5 million americans when put fully into effect.

    mr. bush presents the plan as a part of his philosophy of giving individuals more choices and more control over their health care, and of trusting the private market to respond to their needs.

    "i've made my stand,'' the president said in march. ''i believe that the best health care policy is one that trusts and empowers consumers and one that understands the market."

    similarly, mr. bush proposes to hold down health costs through the approach sometimes described as consumer-driven health care. the idea is to make consumers more conscious of the cost of medical care, encouraging them to shop around for better deals and eventually reducing unnecessary care.

    as the president envisions it, consumers would combine high-deductible insurance plans, which are relatively inexpensive, with tax-free health savings accounts that they would create to cover the cost of routine medical care. this year he has proposed making the premiums for those plans deductible, to further encourage their use.

    [color=olive]critics fault the president's plan on several grounds. they say that his $3,000 tax credit falls far short of what it takes to buy a substantial family plan, and that he relies too much on the market of individual health insurance rather than buttressing the employer-based system of group coverage, considered far more stable. in the end, the critics assert, mr. bush's proposals would leave tens of millions of americans uninsured, and many millions more squeezed by the soaring costs of an unfettered market.

    mr. kerry, for his part, has a sweeping plan that tries to cover all uninsured children and most uninsured adults without the kind of fundamental structural change that doomed past democratic proposals. it would cost $650 billion over 10 years, his campaign estimates, and would be financed by rolling back the bush tax cuts for those earning over $200,000 a year.

    the most unusual part of mr. kerry's plan would have the federal government pick up 75 percent of the cost of the most expensive medical cases - those of over $50,000 a year - if employers guaranteed that they would pass the savings along to their workers through reduction of premiums. this is intended to ease the burden on businesses, especially small ones, and provide cost relief to americans with insurance.

    in general, mr. kerry would provide a variety of new subsidies to help small businesses and low-income people buy health insurance: $177 billion over 10 years in tax credits, more than twice the size of mr. bush's credits.

    the senator would also create a new version of the federal employees health benefit plan, a collection of private plans now available to congress and federal workers, that would provide good group coverage to other americans and small businesses.

    and he would expand assistance to the states to cover more children and low-income adults under medicaid.

    mr. kerry argued this week that his plan would succeed because it was not a "government plan" with new mandates and bureaucracies. republicans say it would nonetheless lead to new government regulation and essentially transfer to the federal government the responsibility for a huge share of health care spending.
    copyright 2004 the new york times company
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on May 17, '04
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   Dixiedi
    you don't see the wholes in the kerry plan?
    yes, there are holes in bush's plan, they are still being ironed out, it's not something that can be done in just a few years.
    the last thing we need is more medicaid which is exactly what kerry is offering. bush is offering me an affordable option.
    i do not run to the dr every few months to stick my feet into the stirrups, nor do i run when i have a cold or the flu. kerry's system would encourage people to do so, bush's plan encourages people to think before they run, to take responsibility for their medical expenses.
    taking responsibility away from the consumer only serves to create a monster that expects the government to keep/make them healthy without their help.
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Well, the working nurse who is struck with cancer, uses all sick time and therefore loses her job. She has no income so cannot afford the COBRA insrance for herself and family.

    I worked with her. She died broke after working full time as an LVN for more than 30 years. Her house was sold to pay hospital bills. She was turfed to the county hospital from the very facility where she had cared for patients for tens of thousands of hours.

    I wish it were a cold or the flue. She who died with a decubitus to the bone helped others avoid what happened to her.
  5. by   ChrisA
    Quote from Dixiedi
    Taking responsibility away from the consumer only serves to create a monster that expects the government to keep/make them healthy without their help.
    You mean, like the huge numbers of un- and underinsured in this country who use EDs as their primary care providers, because their employers don't cover them well enough? I'd say that providing opportunity and education to people is the way to create responsible health care consumers, not austerity.
  6. by   gwenith
    Taking responsibility away from the consumer only serves to create a monster that expects the government to keep/make them healthy without their help.
    Nope doesn't. Setting up a legal system that rewards people for blaming others for thier own failings does that.

    We have a free hospital system but we seem to have less abuse of that same system. Don't get me wrong we certainly do have our drop kicks and drongo's who wrangle the system but they are a minority.
  7. by   brent
    Quote from Dixiedi
    You don't see the holes in the Kerry Plan?
    Yes, there are holes in Bush's plan, they are still being ironed out, it's not something that can be done in just a few years.
    The last thing we need is more medicaid which is exactly what Kerry is offering. Bush is offering me an affordable option.
    I do not run to the Dr every few months to stick my feet into the stirrups, nor do I run when I have a cold or the flu. Kerry's system would encourage people to do so, Bush's plan encourages people to think before they run, to take responsibility for their medical expenses.
    Taking responsibility away from the consumer only serves to create a monster that expects the government to keep/make them healthy without their help.
    How long are we suppose to wait for Bush's iron to get hot. He has had 4 years to "iron out" his plan and the situation just gets worse every year. Health insurance for me and my family where I work is $1018.00 a month! I can't afford that. So my wife and I and my 2 daughters are part of the statistics of the uninsured. I don't run to the doctor for little things either. But I have had occasions where one of us in the family has had to go to the e.r. for various reasons. I have several hospital bills I am trying to pay off now simply because I can't afford health insurance. It is just wrong and we need a change of direction. Someone who cares about the working class.
  8. by   wjf00
    Bush just doesn't get it. The burden of providing health care falls to businesses. These same businesses try to compete with off shore companies who have no such burden. Meanwhile jobs are being off shored, more people lose their healthcare and the cycle only gets worse. Take the burden off the private sector and help US businesses compete. Kerry has it right.
  9. by   julieftRN
    DBunker Buster: Kerry Has a "Thin" Record on Health Care
    KERRY CLAIM: John Kerry is an Acknowledged Leader in Health Care Reform

    THE TRUTH: Non-Partisan Sources Say Kerry Has A "Thin" Record on Health Care:

    "[O]n Education And Health Care, Two Of The Most Important Domestic Battlegrounds Between Democrats And Republicans, Kerry Has A Thin Record." (David Nather, "Kerry's Complex Record And His Pursuit Of The Presidency," CQ Weekly, 4/24/03)

    "[Kerry] Has Not Played A Major Role In The Most Significant Health Care Debates Of Recent Years ..." (David Nather, "Kerry's Complex Record And His Pursuit Of The Presidency," CQ Weekly, 4/24/03)

    "For Most Of [Kerry's] 19-Year Senate Career ... He Has Not Been Focused On Health Care." (Marilyn Werber Serafini, "Targeting The 'Worried Insured'," National Journal, 2/7/04)

    "Even Though Kerry Was Appointed Last Year To The Finance Committee, One Of The Senate's Two Health Care Panels, He Has Been Relatively Inactive; He Played Little Role In Last Year's Overhaul Of Medicare." (Marilyn Werber Serafini, "Targeting The 'Worried Insured'," National Journal, 2/7/04)

    Kerry Was Lead Sponsor On Just 14 Health Care Bills During His 19 Years In Senate.

    This Represents Just 4.5% Of All Bills Sponsored By Kerry. Kerry has been the lead sponsor on 314 bills during his Senate career. The 14 pieces of health care legislation make up 4.5% of this total. (Thomas Website, http://thomas.loc.gov, Accessed 1/31/04)

    None Of Kerry's Health Care Bills Passed Senate As Introduced. Several of Kerry's bills were incorporated into other legislation and passed as amendments. The rest died in committee. (Thomas Website, http://thomas.loc.gov, Accessed 1/31/04)

    During His First Fourteen Years In Senate, Kerry Sponsored Only Two Bills Related To Health Care. From 1985 to 1998, Kerry was lead sponsor on two bills relating to health care: S.1510, the Comprehensive Agent Orange Scientific Evidence Review Act of 1987, and S.2186, Healthy Children Family Assistance Health Insurance Program Act of 1996. Provisions of the Agent Orange bill were incorporated into S.9, the Omnibus Veterans' Benefits and Services Act of 1987, which was indefinitely postponed in the Senate by unanimous consent. The children's health care legislation died in committee, and was reintroduced the following year by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), with Kerry and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) as co-sponsors. (S.1510, Introduced 7/21/87; S.9, Indefinitely Postponed, 12/4/87; S.2186, Introduced 10/1/96; S.Amdt.297, Submitted 5/21/97)

    Dean Attacked Kerry For Failing To Produce "Real Results" On Health Care. "Dean's Washington opponents have talked about reforming the health care system for decades but have failed to deliver any real results. U.S. Senator John Kerry has sponsored 14 pieces of health care legislation during his two decades in Washington yet not a single one has become law." (Dean For America, "Governor Dean Asks Americans To Stand Up For Change In Health Care," Press Release, 1/31/04)

    In January 2004 Debate, Dean First Criticized Kerry's Lack Of Legislative Accomplishments On Health Care. *Note: Dean's numbers differ from RNC Research figures. DEAN: "I mean him no insult, but in 19 years in the Senate, Senator Kerry sponsored ... 11 bills that had anything to do with health care - not one of them passed." (Gov. Howard Dean, Democrat Candidate Debate, Greenville, SC, 1/29/04)

    On "Meet The Press" In February 2004, Dean Again Noted Kerry's Weak Health Care Record. *Note: Dean's numbers differ from RNC Research figures. DEAN: "John Kerry, for example, 11 bills on health care, not one passed; 350 bills introduced, three passed. And it - you know, he's always talking about veterans' health care. His bill died in committee." (Gov. Howard Dean On NBC's "Meet The Press," 2/1/04)


  10. by   mscsrjhm
    Quote from brent
    How long are we suppose to wait for Bush's iron to get hot. He has had 4 years to "iron out" his plan and the situation just gets worse every year. Health insurance for me and my family where I work is $1018.00 a month! I can't afford that. So my wife and I and my 2 daughters are part of the statistics of the uninsured. I don't run to the doctor for little things either. But I have had occasions where one of us in the family has had to go to the e.r. for various reasons. I have several hospital bills I am trying to pay off now simply because I can't afford health insurance. It is just wrong and we need a change of direction. Someone who cares about the working class.
    We are also without insurance. (A comedian said that he was the healthiest when he had no insurance. The minute he got health insurance, he felt every ache and pain.)
  11. by   deathnurse
    Yeah, the situation sucks, but we're making choices aren't we? Get out of nursing and into a business with more respect.
  12. by   BeachNurse
    Quote from deathnurse
    Yeah, the situation sucks, but we're making choices aren't we? Get out of nursing and into a business with more respect.

    Yeah..hey it's AMERICA..we have choices!! I would like to point out that I am a RN and my company offers free (HMO) health insurance for the whole family. Due to some family medical conditions, I choose to pay for the PPO plan, however, it only costs me roughly $250 per month for the whole family.

    Who says anyone has to work anywhere that charges that much money for insurance? There are places that have better benefits, and most places offering group coverage will cover people with pre-existing conditions.
  13. by   Mkue
    Quote from wjf00
    Bush just doesn't get it. The burden of providing health care falls to businesses. These same businesses try to compete with off shore companies who have no such burden. Meanwhile jobs are being off shored, more people lose their healthcare and the cycle only gets worse. Take the burden off the private sector and help US businesses compete. Kerry has it right.
    Actually President Bush does get it, he's been trying to make insurance more affordable for Small Business Owners. Small Businesses IMO are the backbone of America but yet through the years no one has helped, Clinton did little for small businesses and I'm glad to see that President Bush is committed to making health insurance more affordable to small businesses.
  14. by   brent
    Quote from mkue
    Actually President Bush does get it, he's been trying to make insurance more affordable for Small Business Owners. Small Businesses IMO are the backbone of America but yet through the years no one has helped, Clinton did little for small businesses and I'm glad to see that President Bush is committed to making health insurance more affordable to small businesses.
    Specifically, what has Bush done, or what is he doing to help small businesses?

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