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Kerry Charges Bush With 'Giveaway'

Friday, September 17, 2004; Page A06

Candidate: John F. Kerry

Images: A television screen with President Bush’s last ad, stamped with the words "Not True"; doctors and patients; Kerry speaking to voters; still photo of Bush next to text attacking his health policies.

Time: 30 seconds



Audio: George Bush’s health care attack against John Kerry: not true. The Kerry plan gives doctors and patients the power to make medical decisions, not insurance company bureaucrats. The Bush record: A $139 billion giveaway to the drug companies. A record 17 percent increase in Medicare premiums. Five million more Americans without health insurance. George W. Bush. Wrong on health care. Wrong for America.

Analysis: This is the third round of an airwaves battle over health care.

The senator struck first, blaming Bush for the recent 17 percent rise in Medicare premiums, which was required by law. The president counterattacked in two ads, saying Kerry was pushing a "government-run" health care plan — although Kerry would rely on the existing system of private health insurance.

What Kerry calls a "giveaway" to pharmaceutical firms is the prescription drug plan that Bush pushed through Congress last year. A Boston University study estimates that the increased business will boost the drug industry's net profits by $139 billion over eight years. But the two authors were strong critics of the Bush plan, writing in The Washington Post last year that it was "breathtaking in its recklessness." The ad also ignores the fact that millions of Medicare beneficiaries will receive varying levels of benefits beginning in 2006. Kerry aides complain that the law bars the government from negotiating deals with drug companies, an approach that critics say could amount to price controls.

The 45 million Americans without health insurance under Bush represents about a 10 percent increase from the number lacking coverage under President Bill Clinton.

— Howard Kurtz


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