KERRY AND BUSH PROPOSALS DIFFER ON PRICETAG, DETAILS
June 24, 2004
As the presidential campaign heats up, both candidates have begun to define their proposals to improve health care. President Bush favors a relatively modest free market oriented plan that calls for about $89 billion in tax credits for low- and middle-income uninsured. Some other key features of Bush's plan include:
- Small businesses will have an easier time pooling their resources to buy employee health coverage.
- Restrictions on Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) will be eased by expanding deductions.
- Medical liability awards for non-economic damages will be limited to $250,000 and punitive damages will be capped at some to be disclosed amount.
- In addition, a statute of limitations for liability cases will be put into force.
Bush claims $60 billion can be saved from consumer health care spending and $28 billion from federal spending annually through tort reform.
Senator Kerry's health care plan is much more ambitious -- seven times more expansive than Bush's -- and he plans on paying for most of it by rolling back Bush's tax cuts. The main thrust of his $650 billion plan is to subsidize efforts to lower the number of uninsured:
- Employer health plans will be reimbursed for 75 percent of their costs above $50,000.
- Employers will be forced to offer insurance to all employees and guarantee that any savings are used to offset premium costs.
- States will be pushed to expand Medicaid and the State-Children's Health Insurance Program.
Instead of tort reform, Kerry favors using the government's buying power to force drug firms to offer lower prices for federal health plans and to require greater price transparency. Also, he endorses letting consumers buy prescription drugs from Canada, which uses price controls.
Source: Sean Higgins, "Health Care Isn't Top '04 Issue, But Bush, Kerry Offer Contrasts," Investor's Business Daily, June 22, 2004.
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