Mason Experts Address Key Issues in Presidential Election: Health Care

Posted: October 28, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Election Day 2004 is just five days away. Pundits and polls are still predicting a tight race. All indications are that voters have had a difficult time deciding between candidates on national security, health care policies, and the environment. In an effort to provide our readers with additional clarification on these key issues, the Gazette asked George Mason experts to provide their analysis. Today, we offer a brief summary of where the candidates stand on health care. Comments on the series can be e-mailed to gazette@gmu.edu.

Health Care: Where the Candidates Stand

By Rita Carty, professor and dean emerita, College of Nursing and Health Science

Rita Carty
Rita Carty

Both President George Bush and Sen. John Kerry believe all Americans should have access to high-quality, affordable health care, but they differ in what health policy initiatives will best help to reach this goal. Both candidates have put forth plans they believe will improve access to health care services for Americans. In-depth information is available by visiting the candidates’ web sites at www.georgebush.com or www.johnkerry.com.

President Bush’s approach calls for the expansion of existing tax-free Health Savings Accounts through new tax credits. It provides a tax deduction for individuals who purchase their own insurance. It also aims to give small businesses and their employees the ability to join in Association Health Plans so their group purchasing power can help them to get better deals from insurance companies. In addition, Bush plans to continue Medicare reform through both expanded access to preventive care services and implementation of the prescription drug benefit that allows individuals to choose among participating procedures. He also plans to ensure that all medically underserved communities have access to community health centers and parents have access to quality health care for their children through the “Cover the Kids” campaign. Finally, Bush promises to work toward lower health care costs by making medical liability reforms, promoting the use of technology in the health care marketplace, and fighting health care fraud and wasteful spending.

Sen. Kerry’s health care plan calls for tax audits for individuals to help provide health care coverage for seniors, the unemployed, and other individuals not eligible under other parts of the plan. It calls for tax credits for small businesses to help provide health care coverage for low-income employees. It also aims to provide partial reimbursement to businesses for catastrophic care costs. In addition, Kerry plans to reform Medicare by providing a government-run prescription drug benefit. He also plans to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing re-importation of medications from other countries and providing incentives to states to help them provide discount prescription drugs. Kerry also promises to push for a “real” Patients’ Bill of Rights. Finally, he plans to lower health care costs through medical liability reform, administrative reforms such as the improved use of technology among health care providers and insurers, and better transparency rules for pharmacy benefit managers.

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