4) What are your plans to lower the cost of health insurance?
John Kerry wants to give families the option to buy into the same health insurance plan enjoyed by members of Congress. As I said before, he also intends to get premium relief for families by sharing the cost of the highest-cost health cases that are driving up costs in the system. But also, Sen. Kerry is proposing tax relief that offers a 50% tax credit for small businesses that offer health insurance and tax credits for individuals, including those aged 55 to 64 and those between jobs. The president likes to say that this plan amounts to a big-government solution to health-care problems, but in fact the Kerry plan has no mandates. It's entirely voluntary and does not create a single new government program. It builds on the strength of the current system, offering new incentives to make health insurance more affordable.
Let me add that Sen. Kerry favors limiting frivolous lawsuits in the health system. The Congressional Budget Office took a look at the president's plan and said that it would end up lowering the cost of health care by 0.5%. There is no doubt that there are frivolous lawsuits out there, and what we need to do is stop those frivolous lawsuits without stopping families who have been egregiously harmed in the health system from getting the compensation they deserve. John Kerry's plan has a "three strikes and you're out" rule so that lawyers that bring a frivolous lawsuit three times won't be allowed to bring another suit for 10 years. Qualified medical specialists will look at cases to determine if they have merit. Newsweek took a look at this plan and said that it went even further than President Bush's plan in curbing frivolous lawsuits.
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.