John F. Kerry must be a tad worried about President Bush's attacks on his health care plan: He's uncorked two counterattack ads in 18 hours.

The newest one uses quotes from an ABC News report and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial in trying to knock down a pair of Bush commercials that accused the Democratic nominee of pushing for "government-run" health care. The Kerry campaign also invokes criticism from a Knight Ridder report and editorials in the Detroit Free Press and The Washington Post.

"The George Bush attacks on John Kerry's health care plan are called 'not true.' 'Outright fabrications,' " the Kerry spot begins. After playing some of the Bush ad's charges against the Kerry plan -- "Rationing, less access, fewer choices, long waits" -- a narrator says, "Wait a minute. That's what we have now under George Bush. It's Bush that let insurance companies overrule your doctor; costs have skyrocketed. The Kerry plan lowers costs, you choose your doctor, you make medical decisions, not the government."

This is a reference to the Bush camp's argument that Kerry would expand the Medicaid program, which it views as a problem-plagued source of rationing. "The president believes we need to get more people onto private coverage," said Bush adviser Megan Hauck. Kerry adviser Chris Jennings, saying Medicaid benefits are better than no coverage, replied: "This is such a right-wing, Republican cookie-cutter response to any attempt to expand health coverage."

The charge that the president "let" insurance firms overrule doctors is a stretch, because the system of private insurers deciding what treatments to cover has been in place for decades.

One footnote: The "I approve this message" part features a picture of Kerry with running mate John Edwards, who had disappeared from the campaign's advertising.

-- Howard Kurtz