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Dennis Kucinich on Health Care

Democratic Representative (OH-10)


2009: Obama presidency at stake with ObamaCare

Obama believed the outcome of health-care reform would profoundly affect the entirety of his presidency, and most lawmakers in Washington agreed. Pass the bill and he could become a historic president, generating the momentum to push more of his ambitious ideas through Congress. Fail and he would appear weak, even powerless. "Is the Obama presidency at stake here? Yes, it is," said Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio who had run against Obama in the 2008 presidential primary. Jim DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, was even more blunt. "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo," he said. "It will break him."

Obama had made health care reform his top priority during his first year in office only to watch legislation stall in Congress and nearly die when Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, won a special election to the Senate in January and diluted the Democratic majority.

Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p. 90-91 , Oct 11, 2011

Insurance companies make money by NOT providing health care

As long as you have the private insurance companies in involved in providing health services, people aren’t going to get care. Doctors know that the insurance companies want to substitute their judgment for their practice. Everyone knows that the insurance companies make money not providing health care. I’m standing for Medicare for all. Just because you say it’s universal doesn’t mean it’s not-for-profit. Even the insurance companies want a universal health care system.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Let the US be like every other industrialized democracy

Q: Do you favor universal coverage for everyone without exception, and how would you pay for it?

A: Well, first of all, I’m for a national health-care plan. The whole debate about universal health care has been a fraud. All these other candidates are talking about keeping the for-profit insurance companies in charge of health care in America. That’s not what I’m talking about, because these private insurers make money NOT providing health care. And so, I’m saying no more role for them. Let the United States be like every other industrialized democracy in having a health-care plan, a national plan where we take care of our people. And we’re already paying for it. We spend $2.2 trillion on health spending, but $600 billion of it goes for the activities of the for-profit system each year. I’m talking about taking that money, putting it to care for people.

Q: And it would cost how much?

A: It would cost the same amount we’re spending now, except that all the money goes into the system.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate , Sep 13, 2007

Fake debate if we talk about maintaining present system

Q: Everyone recognizes that there are problems with healthcare, but no one can fix it. What is the problem?

A: Let me explain something to the people who are here and who are watching. This debate about health care is a fake debate in this campaign, because all of these candidates are not telling the American people that what they’re talking about is maintaining the present system, where you have insurance companies controlling the system, and you are still stuck with premiums, co-pays & deductibles Everyone knows that insurance companies make money not providing health care, and everyone knows that as long as we’re stuck with this system, where insurance companies make $600 billion a year out of spending that ought to go directly into health care, we’re not going to get the care we need. It’s either health care as a right or health care as a privilege, and I stand for the people.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

FactCheck:Insurance industry profit is under $97B, not $600B

Rep. Dennis Kucinich used a vastly inflated figure for the profits of health insurers. Kucinich said, “We’re stuck with this system, where insurance companies make $600 billion a year out of spending that ought to go directly into health care, we’re not going to get the care we need.”

In fact, health insurance companies don’t make nearly that much. According to the most recent historical data from the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Health Expenditures Accounts, the total of all premiums paid for private health insurance was $694.4 billion in 2005. But of that total, $596.7 billion was paid out in benefits. The remainder went to administrative and “net” costs, such as claims processing, disease and care management, sales, marketing, and taxes. These statistics don’t break out a figure for profits, but it would be some fraction of the $97.7 billion that doesn’t go to benefits, and a far cry from $600 billion.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision , Sep 9, 2007

Challenge system of premiums, co-pays and deductibles

Every other [candidate’s] health care plan keeps the private insurers in charge. I’m the only one who challenges this system of premiums, co-pays and deductibles. So let’s give the American people a real choice, not a conditioned choice, based on polls, but a choice that’s based on their practical aspirations for health care for their families, for a not-for-profit system. We have to break the hold, which the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies have on health care.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Medicare For All: all long-term care totally covered

Under my plan for not-for-profit health care, system, single payer, universal, Medicare for all, long-term care is totally covered. People should not be locked into these higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles, which are destroying people’s economic capabilities. So under the plan that I have, if someone has AIDS, they’re totally covered. Under the plan that I have, if anyone needs long-term care for any kind of an illnesses, they’re totally covered. And the fact of the matter is, we already are paying for a universal standard of care; we’re just not getting it.

Other candidates are talking about maintaining this for-profit health care system, and anyone who has ever had a loved one who has needed medical care and couldn’t get it because they didn’t have the money understands the urgency of having someone not just in the race but in the White House who’s ready to rally the American people in the cause of not-for-profit health care, Medicare for all. And I’m doing that.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues , Aug 9, 2007

Healthcare access is a basic right in a democratic society

We have a nation of such wealth, yet we have 46 million Americans without any health insurance, another 50 million underinsured. It’s time for us to make every American know that they should have access. It is a basic right in a democratic society. We should be able to fund all those diseases where people are suffering, but we have to end for-profit medicine. It is time to take the for-profit insurance companies out of the business and have a not-for-profit health care where everyone’s covered.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Half of all bankruptcies come from medical bills

Half the bankruptcies in the country connected to people not being able to pay their doctor bills or hospital bills, premiums, co-pays and deductibles going so far through the roof -- 46 million Americans, no health care; another 50 million underinsured, there is only one way to get health care coverage for all Americans, and that is to have a universal single-payer, not-for-profit healthcare system, Medicare for All. I’ve written the bill with John Conyers, supported by 14,000 physicians.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Universal not-for-profit health care

Q: What are you planning to do to help Americans have affordable health care premiums?

A: The problem with our health care system--premiums, co-pays and deductibles which for-profit insurance companies run through the roof. I’m the cosponsor of the Conyers-Kucinich bill, H.R. 676, provides for universal, not-for-profit health care, takes that $2.2 trillion and puts it all into health care for people. We are already paying for a universal system of health care. We’re just not getting it.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

Break the hold of the insurance companies

Q: People say the consequence of trying to contain cost in a single-payer system would ultimately be rationing.

A: The insurance companies, when they look at a single-payer not-for-profit system, they’ll say, my God, rationing. What do we have now? 46 million Americans don’t even have coverage. Talk about rationing. They’re not even in the line! Another 50 million people are underinsured and the rest are paying these high premiums, co-pays and deductibles. We’ve got to break the hold the insurance companies have. And their public relations operations would say, well, rationing. The fact of the matter is this plan I’m talking about covers everyone. How do you reduce costs? Let’s look at the costs that are involved in the system rights now. Corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork. All this takes about 31% out of the health care dollar. Now, what does all that have to do with health care? Zero, zip, nada.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas , Mar 24, 2007

Competition between insurers only drives up profits

If you have competition between insurance companies, everyone knows what happens. That doesn’t drive down costs, it drives up profits. That’s a fact. If you say, well, you’re going to give people a choice, either be on a private plan or be with the government, what happens is that the private companies start cherry picking the people in the best health, and then you end up with what’s called adverse selection, those as far as the most medically compromised end up on programs that the government is paying for, and then the government program starts to go down. You end up in an insurance death spiral, which is what it’s called in the industry.

Candidates up here are advocating that government provide subsidies to the insurance industry. What’s that about? I mean, didn’t we have enough with subsidizing the pharmaceutical companies with that phony Medicare D program that President Bush had? How are we any different as Democrats? Think about that.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas , Mar 24, 2007

Key to reform: end role for for-profit insurance companies

Q: Candidates here have debated whether or not it’s going to take raising taxes to pay for universal health care. What do you think?

A: This health care debate is one of the biggest frauds that’s been put on the American people. In 2000 and 2004, I brought forth a proposal, Medicare for All. It’s embodied in the Conyers-Kucinich bill. It provides for covering everyone. The big difference between what I’ve been talking about and all the other candidates are talking about is that my plan doesn’t provide for a role for for-profit insurance companies. Our party really isn’t legit on the issue of health care, because whenever you talk to these candidates, there’s always a role for the for-profit insurance companies. Do you know, almost 31% of the spending that goes for health care goes for the for-profit system -- corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Streamlined national health insurance as Enhanced Medicare

The current profit-driven system, dominated by private insurance firms & their bureaucracies, has failed. We must establish streamlined national health insurance, Enhanced Medicare for All. It would be publicly-financed health care, privately delivered, and will put patients & doctors back in control of the system. Coverage will be more complete than private insurance plans; encourage prevention; and include prescription drugs, dental care, mental health care, & alternative and complementary medicine.
Source: 2006 House campaign website, www.kucinich.us , Nov 7, 2006

Single-payer isn’t in platform because it offends donors

KUCINCIH: Washington right now is controlled by the insurance interests and by the pharmaceutical companies. I went to our Democratic platform committee with a proposal for universal single-payer health care. And it was quickly shot down because it offended some of the contributors to our party. We must be ready to take up this challenge of bringing health care to all the American people.
Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC , Feb 26, 2004

Not socialism, but a change from predatory capitalism

Q: On health care?

KUCINICH: My proposal is to have a universal single-payer, not-for-profit health care system, because that would lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty.

Q: Harry Truman proposed that in 1948.

KUCINICH: Well, and you know what? John Conyers and I introduced the bill in this Congress. And that would provide all coverage for everyone, all medically necessary procedures, plus vision care, dental care, mental health care, and long-term care.

Q: In other words, socialism?

KUCINICH: What we have now is predatory capitalism which makes of the American people a cash crop for the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. And so I’m talking about a change.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC , Feb 26, 2004

Not-for-profit system differs from Hillary’s pro-HMO system

Q: Why is there so much resistance on the part of your colleagues to going to a single-payer system? Is it the Hillary factor?

A: No. What Senator Clinton was proposing was really more HMOs, and the competition in the insurance industry caused so many people in the insurance industry to be afraid of it. My proposal shifts the whole system into a not-for-profit system. It eliminates these corporate profits and stock options and executive salaries, the advertising, lobbying, marketing costs.

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

Tax employers to pay for single-payer plan

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

A: I will include complete coverage of prescription drugs in a single-payer plan that provides every man, woman, and child with comprehensive health coverage from whatever doctors they choose, and does so through a tax on employers that is lower than what employers who now provide coverage pay on average.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “Medicare” , Jan 25, 2004

Rally to elect a new Congress to pass new health care deal

Q: If you were President how would you work with Congress?

A: As a member of Congress I have had excellent relationships with both sides of the aisle. It is important for the President to work with Congress and I will use the relationships I have built through 4 terms to create a working partnership. I am also aware that my legislative agenda, which will include universal health care, will require support in the Congress which may not currently exist. As the nominee of our party, I will call upon the American people to support candidates for Congress who will take control of the health care system in the US away from the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies and create a system which truly serves all the American people with guaranteed health care for all. When FDR was the nominee in 1932, he asked the American people to give him a Congress which would help him implement the New Deal. I intend to rally the American people in this election to create a New Deal for a New Century.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 4, 2003

I’m not selling insurance-switch to not-for-profit system

Q: What makes your single-payer health care proposal different than other candidates’ universal health insurance?

A: Many of the other candidates say they want to make sure all Americans have health insurance. I am not selling insurance. I want to create a system which makes it possible for all Americans to have health care. This means we must move from a for-profit health care system which is controlled by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, to a not-for-profit system. This is the essence of my proposal for Universal Health care, Medicare for All. A single payer system, it is embodied in legislation, HR 676. This fundamental change in our health care system will provide all Americans with access to quality health care. Whether you are working or not, you will be covered. The scope of coverage will include all medically necessary procedures, dental health care, mental health care, vision care, long term care and a prescription drug benefit.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 4, 2003

Single-payer for alternative medicine, mental health, more

KUCINICH: Dr. Dean’s plan would leave 10 million Americans out. It’s important that all Americans be covered, [including] alternative medicine, a prescription drug benefit, vision care and dental care and mental health care, and long-term nursing care- all covered under one Medicare For All, single-payer program. I’m the one who has that plan. I’m the one who’s offering it. I’m the only one on this stage who can say that.

DEAN: In all due respect to all the candidates here, these folks have been in Washington a long time and talked about health insurance for a long time, and we have very little to show for it. In my state, 99% of the kids that are eligible for health insurance who are under 18, 96% have it. Everybody under 150% of poverty, all our working poor people, have health insurance. And a lot of seniors have prescription benefits. This does need to be a system that’s built on what we have. We’ve done that in Vermont. I’d like the opportunity to do that for the whole country.

Source: [X-ref Dean] Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003

7.7% tax to pay for full coverage

The pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies control our health care system. I’ve introduced legislation that provides for a totally new change; that has health care for people, not for profit. It’s called Medicare For All. It’s a single-payer program. And it’s financed by a 7.7% tax paid by employers. And it covers everything. It covers all medically necessary procedures and a wide range of benefits.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan , Sep 25, 2003

Health is a right, not a privilege

Q: How do you get more of the uninsured covered, and do you have to repeal the Bush tax cuts to do it?

KUCINICH: I’ve introduced a bill which states that health care is a right, not a privilege, and it’s to get the profit out of health care, and here’s a copy of it. It’s H.R. 676. Congress right now has in front of it a plan that would cover all medically necessary health services, all individuals.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico , Sep 4, 2003

Take profit motive out of health care

In my bill H.R. 676, individuals would not have to pay premiums, deductibles or co-pays. But what it would do is it would take the profit out of health care. And with the exception of Ms. Moseley Braun, all the others here will retain the role of private insurers. And we have to understand that the insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals right now, they own us. We need to take our health care system back.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico , Sep 4, 2003

Insurance companies do not heal people; practitioners do

The Kucinich plan will remove private insurance companies from the healthcare system-along with their waste, paperwork, profits, excessive executive salaries, advertising, sales commissions-and redirect resources to actual treatment. Insurance companies do not heal or treat anyone, physicians and health practitioners do. Non-profit national health insurance will decrease total healthcare spending while providing more treatment and services-through reductions in bureaucracy and cost-cutting measures such as bulk purchasing of prescriptions drugs. Funding will come primarily from existing government healthcare spending (more than $1 trillion) and a phased-in tax on employers of 7.7% (almost $1 trillion). The employers’ tax is less than the 8.5% of payroll now paid on average by companies that provide private insurance. This type of system-privately-delivered health care, publicly financed -- has worked well in other countries, none of whom spend as much per capita on healthcare as the United States.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Seniors forced to choose between medicine and food

Today there are senior citizens throughout America who are forced to make cruel choices between paying the high cost of prescription drugs or buying food; between prescription drugs or clothing. Seniors are splitting their pills to make prescriptions last, splitting their budgets with $600 monthly prescription bills, splitting their physical and their economic health.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Prescription for America: ceiling on drug company profits

The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable in America, even more profitable than the banking industry. America is a captive market. Our government should place limits on the price which any manufacturer can charge for prescription drugs. We need a new Prescription for America, a regulatory structure which puts a ceiling on drug company profits the same way credit laws establish what constitutes usury.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Regulate prescription drug prices like utility rates

As with utility rates, our government should be empowered to lower prices and impose windfall profits taxes to correct excess pricing. Government has a moral responsibility to ensure the purity and safety of the food supply. We cannot abdicate this responsibility to global corporations whose goals may be limited to profit-orientation.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Medicare for All: universal single-payer national system

The Kucinich plan is enhanced ‘Medicare for All’ -- a universal, single-payer system of national health insurance, carefully phased in over 10 years. It addresses everyone’s needs, including the 40 million Americans without coverage and those paying exorbitant rates for health insurance. This approach to healthcare emphasizes patient choice, and puts doctors and patients in control of the system, not insurance companies.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” , Aug 1, 2003

Private companies charge 18% admin & Medicare charges 3%

My health-care plan, Medicare for all, calls for a 7.7% tax paid for by the employer. Employers are already paying 8.5%. So it actually saves businesses money. That would raise about $920 billion. In addition to that, there’s already over a trillion dollars being spent a year in local, state and federal dollars for health care. The American people are already paying for health care for all, but they’re not getting it.

That’s why I say it’s time to take the profit out of health care. We have the money in the system, but right now the private companies are charging about 18% for administration, while the cost of Medicare administration is only 3%.

I think it is urgent that we take profit out of health care. How many homes have this discussion every day in America? “Well, I don’t feel well. Ah, we don’t have the money to go to the doctor.” Or, “Well, we can’t afford that surgery.” We need to stop those kind of discussions in America. We have the money in this country.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa , May 17, 2003

Raise taxes for guaranteed, single payer, universal care

Q: Are you willing to raise taxes to cover everyone?

KUCINICH: We can phase in [an increase] in the payroll tax to 7.7% on all employers and have that be our mainstay of our national health care plan. We have to get the profit out of health care. And that means get the private insurance companies out of health care. Any plan that fails to do that is not going to deliver the best quality universal health care. I introduced HR676, Medicare for all: guaranteed, single payer, universal health care. It’s time to have health insurance for the American people, not the insurance companies.

Q: The Republicans are going to say there they go again, Democrats are raising taxes again. Is there anyone willing to rule out raising taxes?

LIEBERMAN: I am not willing to raise taxes to pay for health insurance in [that] way. All I am going to do is put the tax rate back to where it was when Bill Clinton was president, because we did a lot better under Bill Clinton than we are under George Bush.

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


Dennis Kucinich on Voting Record

HR 676, Conyers-Kucinich bill, establishes Medicare for all

A not-for-profit health care system is not only possible, but HR676, the Conyers-Kucinich bill, actually establishes Medicare for all, a single-payer system and it’s a not-for-profit system. It’s time to end this control that insurance companies have not only over health care but over our political system.

We’re being told here today to buy into a view of the world which says that, well, you know, but the insurance companies run the system. We’ll work out competition between the insurance companies & maybe we’ll have government subsidize the insurance companies. Where is our call for greatness?

I’m talking about a real deal for the American people, a universal single-payer not-for-profit Medicare for all. It’s already into legislative form. 62 members of Congress have signed on. Over 14,000 physicians have signed on. We can do this. Break the hold of the insurance company on our health care system and lift the American people out of poverty. That’s what my presidency is going to be about.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas , Mar 24, 2007

Voted NO on the Ryan Budget: Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts.

Proponent's Arguments for voting Yes:

[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.

[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.

Opponent's Arguments for voting No:

[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.

[Sen. Merkley, D-TK]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.

Reference: Ryan Budget Plan; Bill HCR34&SCR21 ; vote number 11-HV277 on Apr 15, 2011

Voted NO on repealing the "Prevention and Public Health" slush fund.

Congressional Summary:Amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to repeal provisions establishing and appropriating funds to the Prevention and Public Health Fund (a Fund to provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs). Rescinds any unobligated balanced appropriated to such Fund.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Pitts, R-PA]: Section 4002 of PPACA establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund, which my bill, H.R. 1217, would repeal. The PPACA section authorizes the appropriation of and appropriates to the fund from the Treasury the following amounts:

We have created a slush fund from which the Secretary of HHS can spend without any congressional oversight or approval. I would suggest to my colleagues that, if you wanted more funding to go towards smoking cessation or to any other program, the health care law should have contained an explicit authorization. By eliminating this fund, we are not cutting any specific program. This is about reclaiming our oversight role of how Federal tax dollars should be used.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill represents the Republicans' newest line of attack to disrupt, dismantle, and to ultimately destroy the Affordable Care Act. For many years, Republicans have joined with Democrats in supporting programs to prevent disease, to promote health and, in turn, to cut health care costs. But today, the House will vote to end funding for the first and only Federal program with dedicated, ongoing resources designed to make us a healthier Nation.

Reference: To repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund; Bill H.1217 ; vote number 11-HV264 on Apr 13, 2011

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-H187 on Apr 2, 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-H016 on Jan 14, 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-H491 on Jul 15, 2008

Voted YES on giving mental health full equity with physical health.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. PALLONE. This is a comprehensive bill which will establish full mental health and addiction care parity. The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 authorized for 5 years partial parity by mandating that the annual and lifetime dollar limit for mental health treatment under group health plans offering mental health coverage be no less than that for physical illnesses. This bill requires full parity and also protects against discrimination by diagnosis.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. DEAL of Georgia: I am a supporter of the concept of mental health parity, but this bill before us today is not the correct approach. This path will raise the price of health insurance, and would cause some to lose their health insurance benefits and some employers to terminate mental health benefits altogether.

The bill's focus is also overly broad. Our legislation should focus on serious biologically-based mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, not on jet lag and caffeine addiction, as this bill would include. There are no criteria for judicial review, required notice and comment, or congressional review of future decisions.

I would ask my colleagues to vote "no" today so that we can take up the Senate bill and avoid a possible stalemate in a House-Senate conference on an issue that should be signed into law this Congress.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 268-148

Reference: Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act; Bill H.R.1424 ; vote number 08-HR1424 on Mar 5, 2008

Voted YES on Veto override: Extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids.

OnTheIssues Explanation: This vote is a veto override of the SCHIP extension (State Children's Health Insurance Program). The bill passed the House 265-142 on 10/25/07, and was vetoed by Pres. Bush on 12/12/07.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: This Act would enroll all 6 million uninsured children who are eligible, but not enrolled, for coverage under existing programs.

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGE: 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. My Administration strongly supports reauthorization of SCHIP. [But this bill, even with changes, does not meet the requirements I outlined].

It would still shift SCHIP away from its original purpose by covering adults. It would still include coverage of many individuals with incomes higher than the median income. It would still result in government health care for approximately 2 million children who already have private health care coverage.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. DINGELL: This is not a perfect bill, but it is an excellent bipartisan compromise. The bill protects health insurance coverage for some 6 million children who now depend on SCHIP. It provides health coverage for 3.9 million children who are eligible, yet remain uninsured. Together, this is a total of better than 10 million young Americans who, without this legislation, would not have health insurance.

The bill makes changes to accommodate the President's stated concerns.

  1. It terminates the coverage of childless adults in 1 year.
  2. It prohibits States from covering children in families with incomes above $51,000.
  3. It contains adequate enforcement to ensure that only US citizens are covered.
  4. It encourages securing health insurance provided through private employer.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Veto override failed, 260-152 (2/3rds required)
Reference: SCHIP Extension; Bill Veto override on H.R.3963 ; vote number 08-HR3963 on Jan 23, 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 2007-1009 on Oct 25, 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.

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill HR 4 ("First 100 hours") ; vote number 2007-023 on Jan 12, 2007

Voted NO on denying non-emergency treatment for lack of Medicare co-pay.

Vote to pass a resolution, agreeing to S. AMDT. 2691 that removes the following provisions from S 1932:
Reference: Reconciliation resolution on the FY06 budget; Bill H Res 653 on S. AMDT. 2691 ; vote number 2006-004 on Feb 1, 2006

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

Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill; Bill HR 4280 ; vote number 2004-166 on May 12, 2004

Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.

Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR.1 ; vote number 2003-669 on Nov 22, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN; Bill HR.2427 ; vote number 2003-445 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted NO on small business associations for buying health insurance.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act; Bill HR 660 ; vote number 2003-296 on Jun 19, 2003

Voted NO on capping damages & setting time limits in medical lawsuits.

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA; Bill HR 5 ; vote number 2003-64 on Mar 13, 2003

Voted NO on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563 ; vote number 2001-329 on Aug 2, 2001

Voted NO on subsidizing private insurance for Medicare Rx drug coverage.

HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 4680 ; vote number 2000-357 on Jun 28, 2000

Voted YES on banning physician-assisted suicide.

Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 2260 ; vote number 1999-544 on Oct 27, 1999

Voted NO on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.

The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO; Bill HR 2990 ; vote number 1999-485 on Oct 6, 1999

MEDS Plan: Cover senior Rx under Medicare.

Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

Summary of the Medicare Extention of Drugs To Seniors Act (Meds)

MEDS establishes an 80/20 outpatient prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D that will be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration. The plan will cost similar to figures for the Bush prescription drug plan due to this plan’s emphasis on lowering the price of pharmaceuticals.

Premiums and Low-income Assistance:

Premiums would be $24/month in the first year and indexed to a pharmaceutical Sustainable Growth Rate, which will ensure that premiums or drug costs do not increase arbitrarily.

Employer Incentive Program:

Employers providing drug coverage equal to or better than the Medicare coverage receive an incentive payment to maintain such coverage.
Source: CPC Press Release, MEDS Plan 01-CPC3 on Jan 31, 2001

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

Kucinich 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

Increase funding for occupational & physical therapy.

Kucinich signed Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (MARS)

Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2011 - Amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to repeal the cap on outpatient physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy services of the type furnished by a physician or as an incident to physicians' services.

SEC. 2. OUTPATIENT THERAPY CAP REPEAL.

Section 1833 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395(l)) is amended by striking subsection (g).

[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com "Therapy Cap"]:

In 1997 Congress established per-person Medicare spending limits, or "therapy cap" for nonhospital outpatient therapy, but responding to concerns that some people with Medicare need extensive services, it has since placed temporary moratoriums on the caps. The therapy cap is a combined $1,810 Medicare cap for physical therapy and speech language pathology, and a separate $1,810 cap for occupational therapy ($1870 for 2011). Medicare patients requiring rehabilitation from disabilities, car accidents, hip injuries, stroke, and other ailments would be limited to roughly two months worth of treatments at an outpatient therapy clinic. Any patients that exceed the cap, whether they are healed or not, would have to stop therapy, or pay for the therapy services out of their own pocket.Several medical associations have lobbied against therapy caps because the bill inadvertently restricted disabled seniors, stroke patients, and other severe cases from receiving therapy treatments.

Source: HR.1546&S829 11-HR1546 on Apr 14, 2011

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Kucinich 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

Make health care a right, not a privilege.

Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

    The Progressive Caucus is united in its goal of making health care a right, not a privilege. Every person should have access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care. We must use our health care dollars efficiently and ensure public accountability in all medical decisions. Based on this goal, we support the following principles:
  1. All Americans, including the 44 million currently without health insurance, deserve to have the health care they need, regardless of ability to pay.
  2. Medicare must remain solvent and available for the millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on the program. The Progressive Caucus supports expanding the program to cover prescription drugs and other needed products and services for beneficiaries. We support a Medicare buy-in for individuals age 55 and older. We support lowering out-of-pocket costs for seniors who currently pay, on average, 20% of their income for health care.
  3. Proposals should be rejected to change traditional Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution or voucher system.
  4. Balanced Budget Act cuts that are negatively affecting patient access to hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies must be restored.
  5. Medicaid must have the resources to continue to provide coverage and care for low-income individuals, including children in the CHIP program.
  6. Individuals with disabilities should retain their health benefits when they return to work and to have access to rehabilitative and other needed services.
  7. Funding and outreach and other programs serving low-income Americans should be expanded. Examples of such programs are the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualified Individuals programs; transitional funds for Medicaid recipients who are also welfare-to-work recipients; and for HHS for mental health outreach for the elderly.
Source: CPC Position Paper: Health Care 99-CPC2 on Nov 11, 1999

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Health Care: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
OH Gubernatorial:
John Kasich
OH Senatorial:
Josh Mandel
Michael Pryce
Rob Portman
Sherrod Brown

Retiring to run for other office:

Running for President:
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)

Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)

Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-1:Jay Inslee(D)

Running for Senate:
AZ-6:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
FL-14:Connie Mack(R)
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MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
NY-9:Bob Turner(R)
WI-2:Tammy Baldwin(D)
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IL-16:Donald Manzullo(R)
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OH-2:Jean Schmidt(R)
OH-9:Dennis Kucinich(D)
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CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
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WA-6:Norm Dicks(D)
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