Search for...
OnTheIssuesLogo

John Kerry on Health Care

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


Find common ground to cover 11 million uninsured children

While the Republicans quest to hold on to power damaged our democracy, the real problems that keep American families up at night remained unsolved - problems like health care for the 11 million uninsured children in America. Keeping Americaís Promise believes it is time to find the common ground to cover those 11 million children in this country living without health insurance.
Source: PAC website, www.KeepingAmericasPromise.com Nov 17, 2006

Fight for affordable health care for all children

Since when wasnít it a big idea, as almost 48 million Americans, now have no health insurance, 11 million children, and weíre the only industrial nation in the world that doesnít -- I still think itís a big idea to have affordable health care for every single American, and we need to go out and fight for it. Weíre not going to stand for watching more children abandoned because we donít give them health care. We are going to stand up and fight.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference Jun 14, 2006

Flu vaccine failure means system is failing US families

Q: Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

BUSH: We relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for US citizens, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated. And so we took the right action and didnít allow contaminated medicine into our country. Weíre working with Canada to help us [get the] vaccines necessary. My call to our fellow Americans is if youíre healthy, if youíre younger, donít get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize those who need to get the flu shot, the elderly and the young. I havenít gotten a flu shot, and I donít intend to because I want to make sure those who are most vulnerable get treated.

KERRY: This really underscores the problem with the American health-care system. Itís not working for the American family. And itís gotten worse under President Bush over the course of the last years.

Source: [Xref Bush] Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona Oct 13, 2004

Bush has turned his back on the wellness of America

KERRY: Bush has turned his back on the wellness of America. And there is no system. In fact, itís starting to fall apart not because of lawsuits, though they are a problem and John Edwards and I are committed to fixing them, but because of the larger issue that we donít cover Americans. Children across our country donít have health care. Weíre the richest country on the face of the planet, the only industrialized nation in the world not to do it. I have a plan to cover all Americans. Weíre going to make it affordable and accessible, and let everybody buy into the same health care plan senators and congressmen give themselves.

BUSH: A plan is not a litany of complaints and not to lay out programs that you canít pay for. The same plan that senators and congressmen get costs the government $7,700 per family. If every family in America signed up like the senator suggested it would cost us $5 trillion over 10 years. Itís an empty promise. Itís called bait and switch.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona Oct 13, 2004

Bush blocked drugs importation and Medicare bulk purchasing

Health-care costs are getting higher. One of the principal reasons is that the Bush administration has stood in the way of common-sense efforts that would have reduced the costs. In the Senate we passed the right of Americans to import drugs from Canada. But Bush and his friends took it out in the House, and now you donít have that right. Bush blocked you from the right to have less expensive drugs from Canada. We also wanted Medicare to be able to negotiate bulk purchasing. We could have done that in Medicare. Medicare is paid for by the American taxpayer. Medicare is for seniors, who many of them are on fixed income, to lift them out of poverty. But rather than help you, the taxpayer, have lower cost, rather than help seniors have less expensive drugs, Bush made it illegal- illegal! -for Medicare to actually go out and bargain for lower prices. Result: $139 billion windfall profit to the drug companies coming out of your pockets. Thatís a large part of your 17% increase in Medicare premiums.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Kerryís healthcare plan lets people choose their plan

Q: Where are you going to get the money to extend health-care coverage to children?

A: Two leading national news networks have both said Bushís characterization of my health-care plan is incorrect. One called it fiction. The other called it untrue. The fact is that my health-care plan, America, is very simple. It gives you the choice. I donít force you to do anything. Itís not a government plan. The government doesnít require you to do anything. You choose your doctor. You choose your plan. If you donít want to take the offer of the plan that I want to put forward, you donít have do. You can keep what you have today, keep a high deductible, keep high premiums, keep a high co-pay, keep low benefits. Hereís what I do: We take over Medicaid children from the states so that every child in America is covered. And in exchange, if the states want to-theyíre not forced to, they can choose to-they cover individuals up to 300 percent of poverty. Itís their choice.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Passed 56 individual bills that Iíve personally written

BUSH: Kerry talked about the Medicare plan, has he been in the US Senate for 20 years? He has no record on reforming of health care. No record at all. He introduced some 300 bills and heís passed five. No record of leadership. I came to Washington to solve problems. I was deeply concerned about seniors having to choose between prescription drugs and food. And so I led. And in 2006, our seniors will get a prescription drug coverage in Medicare.

KERRY: Once again, Bush is misleading America. Iíve actually passed 56 individual bills that Iíve personally written and, in addition to that, and not always under my name, there are amendments on certain bills. But more importantly, with respect to the question of no record, I helped write- I did write, I was one of the original authors of the early childhood health care and the expansion of health care that we did in the middle of the 1990s. And Iím very proud of that. So Bushís wrong.

Source: [Xref Bush[ Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Bush hasnít fully funded the VA hospitals and Medicare

KERRY: Bush said government-run health care results in poor quality. Maybe that explains why he hasnít fully funded the VA and the VA hospital is having trouble and veterans are complaining. Maybe that explains why Medicare patients are complaining about being pushed off of Medicare. He doesnít adequately fund it. I am not proposing a government-run program. Thatís not what I have. I have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Senators and congressmen have a wide choice. Americans ought to have it too.

BUSH: Talk about the VA: Weíve increased VA funding by $22 billion in the four years since Iíve been president. Thatís twice the amount that my predecessor increased VA funding. Of course weíre meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that. Weíre expanding veteransí health care throughout the country. Weíre aligning facilities where the veterans live now. Veterans are getting very good health care under my administration, and they will continue to do so during the next four years.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

FactCheck: Bushís plan yields $13B for big pharma, not $139B

KERRY: Bushís Medicare prescription drug benefit put $139 billion of windfall profit into the pockets of the drug companies right out of your pockets.

Kerry bases his claim on one disputed study by two Bush critics, Boston University researchers Alan Sager and Deborah Socolar, who concluded that 35% of the $400 billion cost that was projected at the time-or $139 billion-would be ďwindfall profitsĒ to drug companies. Their findings are contradicted by a study in March 2004 commissioned by the Pacific Research Institute, which describes itself as a ďfree-market think tank.Ē They estimated drug company profits much lower-from an increase of 3.2% ($13 billion) to a possible decline of 1%. The two studies make starkly different assumptions about whether the new drug benefit will cause seniors to buy a lot more medication thereby increasing sales, and also about the extent to which competition among different drug plans will force drug companies to offer rebates and discounts to get the business.

Source: Analysis of second Bush-Kerry debate by FactCheck.org Oct 10, 2004

Bush said in 2000 that re-importation from Canada was OK

Four years ago, right here in this forum, Bush was asked the same question: Canít people be able to import drugs from Canada? Do you know what he said? I think that makes sense; I think thatís a good idea. Now he said Iím not blocking that. Bush just didnít level with you right now again. He did block it because we passed it in the US Senate, we sent it over to the House, that you could import drugs. We took care of the safety issues. Weíre not talking about third-world drugs, weíre talking about drugs made right here in the US that have American brand names on them in American bottles, and weíre asking that he be able to allow you to get them. Bush blocked it. He also took Medicare, which belongs to you, and he could have lowered the cost of Medicare and lowered your taxes and lowered the cost to seniors. He made it illegal, illegal for Medicare to do what the VA does, which is bulk-purchase drugs so that you can lower the price and get them out to you lower.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Lawsuits contribute less than 1% of all healthcare costs

Bush and his friends try to make a big deal out of trial lawyers suing medical professionals. Is it a problem? Yes, itís a problem. Do we need to fix it, particularly for OB-GYNs and for brain surgeons and others? Yes. But itís less than 1% of the total cost of health care. Your premiums are going up. Youíve seen copays go up, deductibles go up. Everythingís gone up. Five-million people have lost their health insurance under Bush, and heís done nothing about it. I have a plan to lower the cost of health care for you. I have a plan to cover all children. I have a plan to let you buy-in to the same health care senators and congressmen give themselves. I have a plan thatís going to allow people 55 to 64 to buy-in to Medicare early. And I have a plan that will take the catastrophic cases out of the system, off your backs, pay for it out of a federal fund, which lowers the premiums for everybody in America, makes American business more competitive, and makes health care more affordable.
Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Choose your doctor and your healthcare plan

BUSH: Kerry says heís going to have a novel health care plan. The federal governmentís going to run it. It is the largest increase in federal government health care ever. Thatís what liberals do. They create government-sponsored health care. Maybe you think that makes sense. I donít. Government-sponsored health care would lead to rationing. It would ruin the quality of health care in America.

KERRY: My health care plan is not what Bush described. It is not a government takeover. You have choice. Choose your doctor. Choose your plan. The government has nothing to do with it. In fact, it doesnít ask you to do anything. If you donít want to take it, you donít have to. If you like your high premiums, you keep Ďem. Thatís the way we leave it.

Source: [Xref Bush] Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Bush chose a tax cut over health care

KERRY: He put $139 billion of windfall profit into the pockets of the drug companies right out of your pockets. Thatís the difference between us. Bush sides with the power companies, the oil companies, the drug companies; and Iím fighting to let you get those drugs from Canada and Iím fighting to let Medicare survive. Iím fighting for the middle class.

BUSH: If theyíre safe, theyíre coming. I want to remind you that it wasnít just my administration that made the decision on safety. Clinton did the sam thing because we have an obligation to protect you. Kerryís been in the US Senate 20 years. Show me one accomplishment toward Medicare that he accomplished. Iíve been in Washington 3-1/2 years and led the Congress to reform Medicare so our seniors have got a modern health care system.

KERRY: In 1997 we fixed Medicare, and I was one of the people involved in it. We not only fixed Medicare and took it way out into the future; we did something that you donít know how to do, we balanced the budget.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

Bush has no plan to address the health care crisis

Rising health care costs have forced businesses to slow hiring and shift jobs to part-time and temporary workers, many of whom lack health insurance. Yet Bush has no plan to address any of these challenges. The few proposals he has offered would actually make the health care crisis worse by further dividing the system between one that is affordable for the healthy and wealthy, and one that is unaffordable for the elderly, the sick, and increasingly, for Americaís broad middle class.
Source: Our Plan For America, p. 99 Aug 10, 2004

Health care is not a privilege but a right for all

The story of people struggling for health care is the story of so many Americans. But itís not the story of senators and members of Congress. Because we give ourselves great health care and you get the bill. Your familyís health care is just as important as any politicianís in Washington DC. When Iím President, America will stop being the only advanced nation which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected - it is a right for all Americans.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Research, prevention, and wellness can reduce Medicare costs

Q: Will you do something about the rate of growth in Medicare?

A: You donít cut the benefits to people that youíve promised. You can do things to guarantee that you keep Medicare solvent, as weíve done. We did that in the US Congress. And we did it with respect to Social Security. If we had a medical care system in this country that dealt better with research, with prevention, with wellness, with the whole parameter of health care issues, we could begin to reduce the costs of Medicare

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Day 1: Make health care a right, not a privilege

Q: After the inauguration, what would be your first action as president?

A: I will send to Congress a health care plan that stops spiraling costs, covers every child in America, and makes it possible for every American to get the same health care as any member of Congress. Making health care a right and not a privilege is something worth fighting for.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, ďDAY 1Ē Jan 25, 2004

Donít push seniors into HMOs; change Bush Rx plan

Q: How, if at all, would you change the new prescription drug benefit for the elderly?

A: I will change the benefit so that it: rewards employers who are offering retiree health benefits rather than undermining them; does not push seniors into HMOs; includes real cost containment and improves protections for low-income Americans.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, ďMedicareĒ Jan 25, 2004

Simultaneously address costs, coverage, and choice

My plan builds on and strengthens the current public/private system of health care and at the same time simplifies it. I definitely donít want to put Americans in some sort of one-size-fits-all health-care program; I want to give them more affordable options and greater choices.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.125-9 Oct 1, 2003

Lack of accessible health care is a disgrace

We must end the disgrace of America being the only industrialized nation on the planet not to make health care accessible to all our citizens.
Source: Speech at Massachusetts Democratic Convention May 31, 2002

Tax cut of $550 billion would cut Medicare

They donít want to defend their tax cut of $550 billion, and they donít want to tell people the truth about what will happen to Medicare, which DíAmato said would be cut if their tax cut passes. Thatís why he wants to talk about everything else in this race, because he canít defend going to Washington, helping the rich and the wealthy and the corporations over the working people of this country.
Source: KERRY/WELD: HOME STRETCH, PBS.org Oct 25, 1996


John Kerry on Health Insurance

FactCheck: Kerryís plan covers 95% of Americans, not 100%

KERRY: ďI have a plan to cover all AmericansĒ for health care.

FACT CHECK: Actually, his plan wouldnít cover all Americans. It would increase the percentage who have coverage from 84% currently to an estimated 92% to 95%. But several million would still be left uninsured.

Source: Analysis of Third Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck.org) Oct 14, 2004

Health care plan is not an empty promise and provide choice

My health care planís not an empty promise. Bush used that very plan as a reason for seniors to accept his prescription drug plan. He said, if itís good enough for their congressmen and senators to have choice, seniors ought to have choice. What we do is we have choice. I choose Blue Cross/Blue Shield; others choose other programs. But the fact is weíre going to help Americans be able to buy into it. Those that can afford it are going to buy in themselves. Weíre not giving this away for nothing.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona Oct 13, 2004

Covering more people can lower health costs in many ways

We allow you-if you choose to, you donít have to-but we give you broader competition to allow you to buy into the same health care plan that senators and congressmen give themselves. If itís good enough for us, itís good enough for every American. I believe that your health care is just as important as any politician in Washington. You want to buy into it, you can. We give you broader competition. That helps lower prices. In addition to that, weíre going to allow people 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare early. Most importantly, we give small business a 50 percent tax credit so that after we lower the costs of health care, they also get, whether theyíre self-employed or a small business, a lower cost to be able to cover their employees. What happens is when you begin to get people covered like that-for instance in diabetes, if you diagnose diabetes early, you could save $50 billion in the health care system of America by avoiding surgery and dialysis. It works. And Iím going to offer it to America.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

FactCheck: Kerryís plan covers 92%, not 100% of Americans

FACT CHECK: Kerry closed by saying ďI have a plan to provide health care to all Americans.Ē He doesnít. His plan would extend coverage to between 24 and 27 million Americans who donít have it now, depending on which estimate one chooses. But none of the estimates predict ďallĒ would be insured. A study by the independent Lewin Group, for example, projects that 92% would have coverage, up from just under 86% in 2003.
Source: Analysis of second Bush-Kerry debate by FactCheck.org Oct 10, 2004

It is morally wrong to leave so many Americans uninsured

It is morally wrong to tolerate an America with so many uninsured and underinsured Americans. Working Americans who do not have health insurance live in the neighborhoods we call home. We see them every day behind the counter and around the corner. They build Americaís houses, run our small businesses, bag our groceries, and care for our elderly and our kids. And some American families, more than others, tend to fall through the cracks of our health care coverage system.
Source: Our Plan For America, p.101 Aug 10, 2004

Start providing health insurance for every child in America

Our plan starts by providing health insurance for every child in America. Under the Kerry-Edwards plan, the federal government will pay the full costs for the 20 million children in the Medicaid program. In return, we will ask states to expand coverage to children in families with higher incomes than are currently eligible, as well as low-income adults. It will expand coverage to millions of people & provide much needed relief for states that are struggling under persistent growing budgetary pressures.
Source: Our Plan For America, p.103 Aug 10, 2004

Provide a bonus for states to get children insured

Kids will be signed up automatically at hospitals, community health centers, and schools. And $5 billion in enrollment bonuses will be available to states as an incentive to find uninsured children and keep them covered. Children do not choose their parents and whether to have health insurance. Children deserve a good start - with both high quality education and health care. Under our plan, every child in America will have health insurance, and every parent will have a little more peace of mind.
Source: Our Plan For America, p.103 Aug 10, 2004

More help to those who fall through the cracks of the system

We will provide additional help for those who need the most help: Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 years old often have the hardest time finding an affordable health plan. Our plan provides millions of low and moderate income Americans in this age group with a 25% tax credit to help pay the cost of their premiums. Americans who are between jobs often cannot afford health insurance. Our plan helps low and moderate income Americans between jobs by offering them a 75% tax credit to help pay for their premiums. Small business employees are far less likely to have health insurance than employees of large business because health insurers tend to charge small businesses higher premiums for the same coverage. We will offer small businesses a tax credit that covers up to 50% of their premium contribution for low-to-moderate income employees, Finally, low-to-moderate income individuals will get a tax credit to help pay the cost of participating in the Congressional Health Plan.
Source: Our Plan For America, p.104 Aug 10, 2004

Save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums

Since 2000, four million people have lost their health insurance. Your premiums, your co-payments, your deductibles have all gone through the roof. Our health care plan for a stronger America cracks down on the waste, greed, and abuse in our health care system and will save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums. Youíll get to pick your own doctor -and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions. Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices for seniors.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Catastrophic health coverage for all costs over $50,000

Q: Edwards has been saying your health care plan is too expensive. Is his plan ambitious enough?

KERRY: No. My program is more ambitious, because what I would roll back Bushís tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, and create a federal fund that takes all the catastrophic cases in America out of the private system, which means, effectively, every individual in every business in America will be capped at $50,000 of risk. That will provide each American who has health care today with a $1,000 minimum reduction in their premium.

Q: Sen. Edwards, that is one of the major differences between your plan. Is that idea affordable?

EDWARDS: The issue becomes whether you believe health care is an isolated problem. For those in poverty and the struggling middle class, if one thing goes wrong-if they have a health care problem-they go right off the cliff. I mandate health care for all kids and cover the most vulnerable adults. But we also have to find ways to not only lift these families out of poverty.

Source: [Xref Edwards] Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Cut $350B of bureaucracy and cover 90% of Americans

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p.142-3 Oct 1, 2003

Cover more citizens with health plan like Congress gets

KERRY: Every American ought to have access to affordable health care through the same plan that the President & Congress give themselves. I will lay out how you can do that, how you can buy into Medicare [at age] 55, and also how we can cover children. But when Dean became governor, 90.5% of the citizens of Vermont were already covered. When he left as governor, 90.4% were covered. So youíve got this problem of bringing people into the system and getting to the percentage that America ought to get to, which is covering more citizens.

DEAN: When I came into office, Vermont had a program that insured everybody up to the age of 6 to 225% of the poverty [level]. I expanded that up to the age of 18 for 300% of the poverty [level]. That means if you live in a family that makes $54,000 a year or less in our state, everybody under the age of 18 gets coverage. In fact, Senator, about 96.4% of all our people are covered today, something which I intend to deliver to America when you all make me president.

Source: [X-ref to Dean] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Providing health care for kids is an ethical issue

[To William Weld]: Why did you veto health care for kids that donít have it? Thatís an ethical issue.
Source: Kerry/Weld: A Classic Senate Race In Massachusetts, CNN.com Oct 29, 1996

Created catastrophic health insurance and withdrew it

What we did was create catastrophic health insurance and what we did was pay for prescriptions for seniors who canít pay for them. Then we found that the formula didnít work as was anticipated and we withdrew it.
Source: Kerry/Weld Search For Votes, CNN.com Jul 3, 1996


John Kerry on Voting Record

Key issue: Does government control reduce cost?

Kerry was less clear on [his preferences regarding] the Clinton health care plan--involving unprecedented government intervention in the health markets--to dramatically expand insurance coverage. Kerry, who had once suffered his own bout with skyrocketing health costs said a crucial question to be considered [about health care plans] was: ďDoes it reduce cost?Ē
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.287-8 Apr 27, 2004

Voted YES on regulating tobacco as a drug.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to provide for the regulation of tobacco products by the Secretary of Health and Human Services through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Defines a tobacco product as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption. Excludes from FDA authority the tobacco leaf and tobacco farms.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.

Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.

Reference: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Bill HR1256&S982 ; vote number 2009-S207 on Jun 11, 2009

Voted YES on expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.

Reference: SCHIP Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.2 ; vote number 2009-S031 on Jan 29, 2009

Voted YES on overriding veto on expansion of Medicare.

Congressional Summary:Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Reference: Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act; Bill HR.6331 ; vote number 2008-S177 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted NO on means-testing to determine Medicare Part D premium.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To require wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to pay a greater share of their Medicare Part D premiums.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.

Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.

Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4240 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S063 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted NO on allowing tribal Indians to opt out of federal healthcare.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:
    TRIBAL MEMBER CHOICE PROGRAM: Members of federally-recognized Indian Tribes shall be provided the opportunity to voluntarily enroll, with a risk-adjusted subsidy for the purchase of qualified health insurance in order to--
  1. improve Indian access to high quality health care services;
  2. provide incentives to Indian patients to seek preventive health care services;
  3. create opportunities for Indians to participate in the health care decision process;
  4. encourage effective use of health care services by Indians; and
  5. allow Indians to make health care coverage & delivery decisions & choices.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. COBURN: The underlying legislation, S.1200, does not fix the underlying problems with tribal healthcare. It does not fix rationing. It does not fix waiting lines. It does not fix the inferior quality that is being applied to a lot of Native Americans and Alaskans in this country. It does not fix any of those problems. In fact, it authorizes more services without making sure the money is there to follow it.

Those who say a failure to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a violation of our trust obligations are correct. However, I believe simply reauthorizing this system with minor modifications is an even greater violation of that commitment.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. DORGAN: It is not more money necessarily that is only going to solve the problem. But I guarantee you that less money will not solve the problem. If you add another program for other Indians who can go somewhere else and be able to present a card, they have now taken money out of the system and purchased their own insurance--then those who live on the reservation with the current Indian Health Service clinic there has less money. How does that work to help the folks who are stranded with no competition?

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 28-67

Reference: Tribal Member Choice Program; Bill SA.4034 to SA.3899 to S.1200 ; vote number 08-S025 on Feb 14, 2008

Voted YES on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility.

Allows State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), that require state legislation to meet additional requirements imposed by this Act, additional time to make required plan changes. Pres. Bush vetoed this bill on Dec. 12, 2007, as well as a version (HR976) from Feb. 2007.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. It meets the concerns expressed in the President's veto message [from HR976]:

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults.
  2. It targets bonus payments only to States that increase enrollments of the poorest uninsured children, and it prohibits States from covering families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. DEAL: This bill [fails to] fix the previous legislation that has been vetoed:

Veto message from President Bush:

Like its predecessor, HR976, this bill does not put poor children first and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction. Ultimately, our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage--not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage. As a result, I cannot sign this legislation.

Reference: Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R. 3963 ; vote number 2007-403 on Nov 1, 2007

Voted YES on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 55-42 (3/5ths required)

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill S.3 & H.R.4 ; vote number 2007-132 on Apr 18, 2007

Voted NO on limiting medical liability lawsuits to $250,000.

A "cloture motion" cuts off debate. Voting YEA indicates support for the bill as written, in this case to cap medical liability lawsuits. Voting NAY indicates opposition to the bill or a desire to amend it. This bill would "provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system." It would limit medical lawsuit noneconomic damages to $250,000 from the health care provider, and no more than $500,000 from multiple health care institutions.
Reference: Medical Care Access Protection Act; Bill S. 22 ; vote number 2006-115 on May 8, 2006

Voted YES on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D.

To provide for necessary beneficiary protections in order to ensure access to coverage under the Medicare part D prescription drug program. Voting YES would extend the 6-month enrollment period for the Prescription Drug Benefit Program to the entire year of 2006 and allows beneficiaries to change plans once in that year, without penalty, after enrollment. Also would fully reimburse pharmacies, states and individuals for cost in 2006 for covered Medicare Part D drugs.
Reference: Medicare Part D Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2730 to HR 4297 ; vote number 2006-005 on Feb 2, 2006

Voted YES on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics.

Vote on an amendment that removes an increase in the Medicaid deduction rebate for generic drugs from 11% to 17%. The effect of the amendment, according to its sponsor, is as follows: "This bill eliminates the ability of generic drugs to be sold using Medicaid. Over half the prescription drugs used in Medicaid are generic. Because we have raised the fees so dramatically on what a generic drug company must pay a pharmacy to handle the drug, pharmacies are not going to use the generic. In the long run, that will cost the Medicaid Program billions of dollars. My amendment corrects that situation." A Senator opposing the amendment said: "This bill has in it already very significant incentives for generic utilization through the way we reimburse generics. Brand drugs account for 67% of Medicaid prescriptions, but they also account for 81% of the Medicaid rebates. This is reasonable policy for us, then, to create parity between brand and generic rebates. This amendment would upset that parity."
Reference: Amendment for Medicaid rebates for generic drugs; Bill S Amdt 2348 to S 1932 ; vote number 2005-299 on Nov 3, 2005

Voted YES on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would allow federal government negotiations with prescription drug manufactures for the best possible prescription drug prices. Amendment details: To ensure that any savings associated with legislation that provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the authority to participate in the negotiation of contracts with manufacturers of covered part D drugs to achieve the best possible prices for such drugs under Medicare Part D of the Social Security Act, that requires the Secretary to negotiate contracts with manufacturers of such drugs for each fallback prescription drug plan, and that requires the Secretary to participate in the negotiation for a contract for any such drug upon the request of a prescription drug plan or an MA-PD plan, is reserved for reducing expenditures under such part.
Reference: Prescription Drug Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 214 to S.Con.Res. 18 ; vote number 2005-60 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of Rx drugs from Canada.

S. 812, as amended; Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2002. Vote to pass a bill that would permit a single 30-month stay against Food and Drug Administration approval of a generic drug patent when a brand-name company's patent is challenged. The secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to announce regulations allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that provide drugs for importation would be required to register with Health and Human Services. Individuals would be allowed to import prescription drugs from Canada. The medication would have to be for an individual use and a supply of less than 90-days.
Reference: Bill S.812 ; vote number 2002-201 on Jul 31, 2002

Voted YES on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

Vote to provide federal protections, such as access to specialty and emergency room care, and allow patients to sue health insurers in state and federal courts. Economic damages would not be capped, and punitive damages would be capped at $5 million.
Reference: Bill S1052 ; vote number 2001-220 on Jun 29, 2001

Voted NO on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Vote to pass an amendment that would make up to $300 billion available for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for 2002 through 2011. The money would come from the budget's contingency fund. The amendment would also require a Medicare overhaul.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-65 on Apr 3, 2001

Voted YES on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

Vote to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would contribute at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs and beneficiaries would pay a $250 deductible
Reference: Bill HR.4690 ; vote number 2000-144 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted NO on limiting self-employment health deduction.

The Santorum (R-PA) amdt would effectively kill the Kennedy Amdt (D-MA) which would have allowed self-employed individuals to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance on their federal taxes.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)53; N)47
Reference: Santorum Amdt #1234; Bill S. 1344 ; vote number 1999-202 on Jul 13, 1999

Voted YES on increasing tobacco restrictions.

This cloture motion was on a bill which would have increased tobacco restrictions. [YES is an anti-smoking vote].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)57; N)42; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on a modified committee substitute to S. 1415; Bill S. 1415 ; vote number 1998-161 on Jun 17, 1998

Voted YES on Medicare means-testing.

Approval of means-based testing for Medicare insurance premiums.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)70; N)20
Reference: Motion to table the Kennedy Amdt #440; Bill S. 947 ; vote number 1997-113 on Jun 24, 1997

Voted YES on blocking medical savings acounts.

Vote to block a plan which would allow tax-deductible medical savings accounts.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)52; N)46; NV)2
Reference: Kassebaum Amdt #3677; Bill S. 1028 ; vote number 1996-72 on Apr 18, 1996

Establish "report cards" on HMO quality of care.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Promote Universal Access and Quality in Health Care
That more than 40 million Americans lack health insurance is one of our societyís most glaring inequities. Lack of insurance jeopardizes the health of disadvantaged Americans and also imposes high costs on everyone else when the uninsured lack preventive care and get treatment from emergency rooms. Washington provides a tax subsidy for insurance for Americans who get coverage from their employers but offers nothing to workers who donít have job-based coverage.

Markets alone cannot assure universal access to health coverage. Government should enable all low-income families to buy health insurance. Individuals must take responsibility for insuring themselves and their families whether or not they qualify for public assistance.

Finally, to help promote higher quality in health care for all Americans, we need reliable information on the quality of health care delivered by health plans and providers; a ďpatientís bill of rightsĒ that ensures access to medically necessary care; and a system in which private health plans compete on the basis of quality as well as cost.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC5 on Aug 1, 2000

Invest funds to alleviate the nursing shortage.

Kerry introduced the Nurse Reinvestment Act

Source: Bill sponsored by 39 Senators 01-S706 on Apr 5, 2001

Let states make bulk Rx purchases, and other innovations.

Kerry signed a letter from 30 Senators to the Secretary of HHS

To: The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary, Department of Health & Human Services

Dear Secretary Thompson:

As you know, prescription drug costs have been surging at double-digit rates for the last six years. The average annual increase 1999 through 2003 was a massive 16%, seven times the rate of general inflation.

These increases fall hardest on senior citizens and the uninsured. Their health needs are often great, and their low incomes often make these products unaffordable. They have no ability to use their combined purchasing power to negotiate reasonable prices. Taxpayers pay tens of billions of dollars for the purchase of drugs by Medicaidóan expense that could be reduced significantly if states are permitted to negotiate for the best prices from drug manufacturers.

As you know, the Supreme Court has just ruled that Maine's innovative program to reduce prescription drug costs for the uninsured and senior citizens is not a violation of the Medicaid law. As a result of this decision, Maine can use the combined buying power of Medicaid and individuals purchasing drugs on their own to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers. Twenty-nine other states supported the position taken by Maine, and there is broad interest in many states in initiating similar programs.

The Supreme Court's ruling, however, left open the possibility that if the Department of Health and Human Services makes a finding that the Maine program violates the Medicaid statute, the Department's action would be upheld by the Court. We urge you not to intervene to block Maine's program or similar statutes in other states that achieve savings for taxpayers, the elderly, and the uninsured. Such programs must be carefully implemented to assure that the poor are not denied access to needed drugs, but there is no justification for the federal government to deny states the ability to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of their neediest citizens.

Source: Letter from 30 Senators to the Secretary of HHS 03-SEN6 on May 20, 2003

Increase funding to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Kerry introduced the budget allocation for HIV/AIDS

S.AMDT.281 to S.CON.RES.23: To increase the budget allocation for programs to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and to reduce the deficit.

Source: Amendment sponsored by 6 Senators 03-SR23 on Mar 26, 2003

Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Kerry scores 100% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Establish a national childhood cancer database.

Kerry co-sponsored establishing a national childhood cancer database

Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.

    Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to childhood cancer professional and direct service organizations for the expansion and widespread implementation of:
  1. activities that provide information on treatment protocols to ensure early access to the best available therapies and clinical trials for pediatric cancers;
  2. activities that provide available information on the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment to ensure access to necessary long-term medical and psychological care; and
  3. direct resource services such as educational outreach for parents, information on school reentry and postsecondary education, and resource directories or referral services for financial assistance, psychological counseling, and other support services.
Legislative Outcome: House version H.R.1553; became Public Law 110-285 on 7/29/2008.
Source: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (S911/HR1553) 07-S911 on Mar 19, 2007

Preserve access to Medicaid & SCHIP during economic downturn.

Kerry co-sponsored preserving access to Medicaid & SCHIP in economic downturn

A bill to preserve access to Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program during an economic downturn.

Source: Economic Recovery in Health Care Act (S.2819) 2008-S2819 on Apr 7, 2008

Disclose payments from manufacturers to physicians.

Kerry signed Physician Payments Sunshine Act

Source: S.301&HR.3138 2009-S301 on Jan 22, 2009

Expand the National Health Service Corps.

Kerry signed Access for All America Act

    A bill to achieve access to comprehensive primary health care services for all Americans and to reform the organization of primary care delivery through an expansion of the Community Health Center and National Health Service Corps programs. Amends the Public Health Service Act to:
  1. increase and extend the authorization of appropriations for community health centers and for the National Health Service Corps scholarship and loan repayment program for FY2010-FY2015, and provide for increased funding for such programs in FY2016 and each subsequent fiscal year; and
  2. revise and expand provisions allowing a community health center to provide services at different locations, adjust its operating plan and budget, enter into arrangements with other centers to purchase supplies and services at reduced cost, and correct material failures in grant compliance.
Source: S.486&HR1296 2009-S486 on Mar 4, 2009

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Kerry co-sponsored the Birth Defects Prevention Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1114. Became Public Law No: 105-168.
Source: Bill sponsored by 35 Senators and 164 Reps 97-S419 on Mar 11, 1997

Other candidates on Health Care: John Kerry on other issues:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
HHS:Tom Daschle
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOC:Judd Gregg
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DOC:Bill Richardson
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
Treas.:Tim Geithner

Former Bush Administration:
Pres.George W. Bush
V.P.Dick Cheney
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
Pres.Bill Clinton
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty

Page last updated: Feb 25, 2011