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.
8) What will your plans cost, and how will you pay for them?
The independent analysis from Ken Thorpe at Emory concludes that the Kerry health plan would cost $653 billion over the next 10 years. And every penny of that would be paid for by rolling back the Bush tax cut for families making over $200,000 per year. That's the top 1.4% of families, keep in mind. That tax rollback is projected to raise $860 billion over the next decade. The difference goes to education.