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Campaign Snapshots

September 10, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT


PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor our seniors with good health care. (Cheers and applause) Medicare is an incredibly important program for our seniors, but it wasn’t modernizing. People say, “What do you mean when you say that?” Well, Medicare would pay thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars for heart surgery, but it would not pay for the prescription drugs to prevent the heart surgery from being needed. That didn’t make any sense for our seniors; it didn’t make any sense for our taxpayers. I went to Washington, D.C., to solve problems. We have now modernized Medicare to help our seniors. Beginning in 2006, seniors will get prescription drug coverage, and we’re not turning back. (Cheers and applause)

Small businesses are having trouble affording health care. One way to help small businesses afford health care– and, therefore, help families– is to allow them to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts big companies get. (Cheers and applause) We’ll help more people own and manage their own health care plans. We’ll expand health savings accounts. We will ensure every poor county in America has a community or rural health center, so people can get the primary care they need. And we’re going to do something about these junk lawsuits that are running good docs out of practice and running up your costs. (Cheers and applause)

One reason small businesses are having trouble affording health care is because these lawsuits are running up the costs of medicine. Make no mistake about it: Junk lawsuits are running up your cost. And make no mistake about it: Too many good docs are being run out of practice, and that’s harmful. It’s harmful for the folks in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and all across America. You cannot be pro-doctor, pro- patient, pro-hospital and pro- trial lawyer at the same time. (Cheers and applause) You have to choose.

My opponent made his choice, and he put him on the ticket. I made my choice. I’m for medical liability reform now. (Cheers and applause In all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. ( Cheers and applause )

JIM LEHRER: Now Sen. Kerry. He spoke at a rally in St. Louis. Also, the focus was health care.

SEN. JOHN KERRY: Nowhere — nowhere is there a bigger choice than on health care. Four years have gone by. If you’re a business person running a business, you’re getting killed by health care costs. If you’re a good ole conservative Republican businessperson somewhere in the country trying to take care of your people, you’re struggling under the cost of health care, and it’s making you less competitive, and your company has a harder time hiring people and a harder time creating products, but does George Bush even talk about it let alone do anything about it? No.

We have a choice. The choice is being smart, being fiscally responsible, reducing the deficit, investing in lowering the cost of health care, make our companies more competitive, make health care more affordable and accessible to all Americans or continue doing what you’re doing today where health care cost are driving people nuts. That’s the choice. That’s George Bush’s choice. That’s my choice.

Now, it’s bigger than that. It’s actually bigger than that. Because the problem of what’s happening with health care represents a real problem with this administration and with George Bush’s priorities. Because his priority has been, number one, the insurance company, the HMO’s, number two the drug companies or one and two — reverse them. Number three, you. I’m putting you first. I’m putting you first. (Applause)

When George Bush had a choice, his choice was to be able to lower the cost to the taxpayer, reduce taxes, lower the cost to seniors by giving them less expensive drugs. Oh, no, no, no. He and his friends chose to literally take out of the Senate bill the permission for to you bring your drugs in from Canada at lower cost. He blocked you from doing it. That was his choice. He also wrote into the law a prohibition against Medicare going out and doing what the VA does, which is negotiate for bulk purchase, lower cost of drugs so he could save you money. So George Bush’s choice put 139 billion dollars into the pockets of the drug companies; 49 billion dollars into the pockets of the HMO’s — all taken out of your pockets, and i think that’s w– wrong choice, wrong direction, wrong leadership for America! (Applause)