5) What are your plans for helping the uninsured?
An independent expert, economist Ken Thorpe of Emory University, looked at John Kerry's health plan and said that it would provide health insurance to 27 million of America's currently uninsured people. That would insure 95% of Americans, including virtually every child in America. Two other analyses looked at the Kerry plan, and even though they were deeply flawed, still agreed that the Kerry plan would cover more than 25 million people. It's going to do it with some of the strategies I outlined earlier: allowing all Americans to buy into health plans used by members of Congress, offer tax credits for small businesses, and cost-sharing for high-cost cases to make insurance less expensive across the board. Sen. Kerry also feels strongly that every child in America should have health coverage. So his plan offers a swap that gives more assistance to states that expand their child insurance programs to cover more kids.
6) Do you have a plan to help employers afford employee health plans?
One of the main reasons that 5 million more people are uninsured today than when President Bush took office is that employers have really scaled back on health insurance. A lot of the new jobs are part-time jobs and temporary work that don't offer health benefits. John Kerry would offer all employers that premium relief plan we talked about that takes the high-cost cases out of the system to lower insurance costs by 10% and make employers more competitive. For small businesses, he's going to do two things: one, that tax credit of up to 50% for small businesses offering health insurance to workers, and two, letting small businesses buy into the federal employees insurance plan, the same one available to members of Congress. This incidentally will have the added benefit of allowing small businesses to pool together so that they can buy cheaper insurance.
7) What is your plan to protect the solvency of Medicare?
In the 1990s, John Kerry voted for a number of measures that ultimately extended the life of Medicare by 30 years. It was supposed to go insolvent in 1999, and that was extended to 2029. George Bush has turned his back on Medicare solvency, passed a large prescription drug bill including $139 billion in profits for drug companies, and that took 13 years off of the life of Medicare. What John Kerry will do is reduce overpayments to HMOs, allow Medicare to negotiate better prices with drug companies, allow Medicare to have competitive purchasing so it gets the very best prices on medical equipment, and restore our fiscal discipline. That strategy worked before to add 30 years to Medicare's solvency and it will work again.