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Dennis Kucinich on Health Care

Democratic Representative (OH-10); Democratic Candidate for President


Single-payer isn't in platform because it offends donors

KUCINCIH: Washington right now is controlled by the insurance interests and by the pharmaceutical companies. I went to our Democratic platform committee with a proposal for universal single-payer health care. And it was quickly shot down because it offended some of the contributors to our party. We must be ready to take up this challenge of bringing health care to all the American people.
Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Not socialism, but a change from predatory capitalism

Q: On health care?

KUCINICH: My proposal is to have a universal single-payer, not-for-profit health care system, because that would lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty.

Q: Harry Truman proposed that in 1948.

KUCINICH: Well, and you know what? John Conyers and I introduced the bill in this Congress. And that would provide all coverage for everyone, all medically necessary procedures, plus vision care, dental care, mental health care, and long-term care.

Q: In other words, socialism?

KUCINICH: What we have now is predatory capitalism which makes of the American people a cash crop for the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. And so I'm talking about a change.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary debate at USC Feb 26, 2004

Not-for-profit system differs from Hillary's pro-HMO system

Q: Why is there so much resistance on the part of your colleagues to going to a single-payer system? Is it the Hillary factor?

A: No. What Senator Clinton was proposing was really more HMOs, and the competition in the insurance industry caused so many people in the insurance industry to be afraid of it. My proposal shifts the whole system into a not-for-profit system. It eliminates these corporate profits and stock options and executive salaries, the advertising, lobbying, marketing costs.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Tax employers to pay for single-payer plan

Q: How, if at all, would you change the new prescription drug benefit for the elderly?

A: I will include complete coverage of prescription drugs in a single-payer plan that provides every man, woman, and child with comprehensive health coverage from whatever doctors they choose, and does so through a tax on employers that is lower than what employers who now provide coverage pay on average.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Medicare" Jan 25, 2004

Rally to elect a new Congress to pass new health care deal

Q: If you were President how would you work with Congress?

A: As a member of Congress I have had excellent relationships with both sides of the aisle. It is important for the President to work with Congress and I will use the relationships I have built through 4 terms to create a working partnership. I am also aware that my legislative agenda, which will include universal health care, will require support in the Congress which may not currently exist. As the nominee of our party, I will call upon the American people to support candidates for Congress who will take control of the health care system in the US away from the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies and create a system which truly serves all the American people with guaranteed health care for all. When FDR was the nominee in 1932, he asked the American people to give him a Congress which would help him implement the New Deal. I intend to rally the American people in this election to create a New Deal for a New Century.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 4, 2003

I'm not selling insurance-switch to not-for-profit system

Q: What makes your single-payer health care proposal different than other candidates' universal health insurance?

A: Many of the other candidates say they want to make sure all Americans have health insurance. I am not selling insurance. I want to create a system which makes it possible for all Americans to have health care. This means we must move from a for-profit health care system which is controlled by insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, to a not-for-profit system. This is the essence of my proposal for Universal Health care, Medicare for All. A single payer system, it is embodied in legislation, HR 676. This fundamental change in our health care system will provide all Americans with access to quality health care. Whether you are working or not, you will be covered. The scope of coverage will include all medically necessary procedures, dental health care, mental health care, vision care, long term care and a prescription drug benefit.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 4, 2003

Single-payer for alternative medicine, mental health, more

KUCINICH: Dr. Dean's plan would leave 10 million Americans out. It's important that all Americans be covered, [including] alternative medicine, a prescription drug benefit, vision care and dental care and mental health care, and long-term nursing care- all covered under one Medicare For All, single-payer program. I'm the one who has that plan. I'm the one who's offering it. I'm the only one on this stage who can say that.

DEAN: In all due respect to all the candidates here, these folks have been in Washington a long time and talked about health insurance for a long time, and we have very little to show for it. In my state, 99% of the kids that are eligible for health insurance who are under 18, 96% have it. Everybody under 150% of poverty, all our working poor people, have health insurance. And a lot of seniors have prescription benefits. This does need to be a system that's built on what we have. We've done that in Vermont. I'd like the opportunity to do that for the whole country.

Source: [X-ref Dean] Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

7.7% tax to pay for full coverage

The pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies control our health care system. I've introduced legislation that provides for a totally new change; that has health care for people, not for profit. It's called Medicare For All. It's a single-payer program. And it's financed by a 7.7% tax paid by employers. And it covers everything. It covers all medically necessary procedures and a wide range of benefits.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Health is a right, not a privilege

Q: How do you get more of the uninsured covered, and do you have to repeal the Bush tax cuts to do it?

KUCINICH: I've introduced a bill which states that health care is a right, not a privilege, and it's to get the profit out of health care, and here's a copy of it. It's H.R. 676. Congress right now has in front of it a plan that would cover all medically necessary health services, all individuals.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Take profit motive out of health care

In my bill H.R. 676, individuals would not have to pay premiums, deductibles or co-pays. But what it would do is it would take the profit out of health care. And with the exception of Ms. Moseley Braun, all the others here will retain the role of private insurers. And we have to understand that the insurance companies and the pharmaceuticals right now, they own us. We need to take our health care system back.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Insurance companies do not heal people; practitioners do

The Kucinich plan will remove private insurance companies from the healthcare system-along with their waste, paperwork, profits, excessive executive salaries, advertising, sales commissions-and redirect resources to actual treatment. Insurance companies do not heal or treat anyone, physicians and health practitioners do. Non-profit national health insurance will decrease total healthcare spending while providing more treatment and services-through reductions in bureaucracy and cost-cutting measures such as bulk purchasing of prescriptions drugs. Funding will come primarily from existing government healthcare spending (more than $1 trillion) and a phased-in tax on employers of 7.7% (almost $1 trillion). The employers' tax is less than the 8.5% of payroll now paid on average by companies that provide private insurance. This type of system-privately-delivered health care, publicly financed -- has worked well in other countries, none of whom spend as much per capita on healthcare as the United States.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Seniors forced to choose between medicine and food

Today there are senior citizens throughout America who are forced to make cruel choices between paying the high cost of prescription drugs or buying food; between prescription drugs or clothing. Seniors are splitting their pills to make prescriptions last, splitting their budgets with $600 monthly prescription bills, splitting their physical and their economic health.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Prescription for America: ceiling on drug company profits

The pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable in America, even more profitable than the banking industry. America is a captive market. Our government should place limits on the price which any manufacturer can charge for prescription drugs. We need a new Prescription for America, a regulatory structure which puts a ceiling on drug company profits the same way credit laws establish what constitutes usury.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Regulate prescription drug prices like utility rates

As with utility rates, our government should be empowered to lower prices and impose windfall profits taxes to correct excess pricing. Government has a moral responsibility to ensure the purity and safety of the food supply. We cannot abdicate this responsibility to global corporations whose goals may be limited to profit-orientation.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Medicare for All: universal single-payer national system

The Kucinich plan is enhanced 'Medicare for All' -- a universal, single-payer system of national health insurance, carefully phased in over 10 years. It addresses everyone's needs, including the 40 million Americans without coverage and those paying exorbitant rates for health insurance. This approach to healthcare emphasizes patient choice, and puts doctors and patients in control of the system, not insurance companies.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, "On The Issues" Aug 1, 2003

Private companies charge 18% admin & Medicare charges 3%

My health-care plan, Medicare for all, calls for a 7.7% tax paid for by the employer. Employers are already paying 8.5%. So it actually saves businesses money. That would raise about $920 billion. In addition to that, there's already over a trillion dollars being spent a year in local, state and federal dollars for health care. The American people are already paying for health care for all, but they're not getting it.

That's why I say it's time to take the profit out of health care. We have the money in the system, but right now the private companies are charging about 18% for administration, while the cost of Medicare administration is only 3%.

I think it is urgent that we take profit out of health care. How many homes have this discussion every day in America? "Well, I don't feel well. Ah, we don't have the money to go to the doctor." Or, "Well, we can't afford that surgery." We need to stop those kind of discussions in America. We have the money in this country.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Raise taxes for guaranteed, single payer, universal care

Q: Are you willing to raise taxes to cover everyone?

KUCINICH: We can phase in [an increase] in the payroll tax to 7.7% on all employers and have that be our mainstay of our national health care plan. We have to get the profit out of health care. And that means get the private insurance companies out of health care. Any plan that fails to do that is not going to deliver the best quality universal health care. I introduced HR676, Medicare for all: guaranteed, single payer, universal health care. It's time to have health insurance for the American people, not the insurance companies.

Q: The Republicans are going to say there they go again, Democrats are raising taxes again. Is there anyone willing to rule out raising taxes?

LIEBERMAN: I am not willing to raise taxes to pay for health insurance in [that] way. All I am going to do is put the tax rate back to where it was when Bill Clinton was president, because we did a lot better under Bill Clinton than we are under George Bush.

Source: [X-ref to Lieberman] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Voted NO on limiting medical malpractice lawsuits to $250,000 damages.

Vote to pass a bill that would limit the awards that plaintiffs and their attorneys could be given in medical malpractice cases. The bill would limit non-economic damages, including physical and emotional pain to $250,000. The bill would also limit punitive damages to $250,000 or double economic damages, whichever amount is greater. Punitive damages would be banned against makers and distributors of medical products if the Food and Drug Administration approved those products. The bill would call for all states to set damage caps but would not block existing state statutory limits. The bill would cap attorneys' contingency fees to 40% of the first $50,000 in damages; 33.3% of the next $50,000; 25% of the next $500,000; and 15% of any amount in excess of $600,000.
Reference: Medical Malpractice Liability Limitation bill; Bill HR 4280 ; vote number 2004-166 on May 12, 2004

Voted NO on limited prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients.

Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003: Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would create a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Starting in 2006, prescription coverage would be made available through private insurers to seniors. Seniors would pay a monthly premium of an estimated $35 in 2006. Individuals enrolled in the plan would cover the first $250 of annual drug costs themselves, and 25 percent of all drug costs up to $2,250. The government would offer a fallback prescription drug plan in regions were no private plans had made a bid.Over a 10 year time period medicare payments to managed care plans would increase by $14.2 billion. A pilot project would begin in 2010 in which Medicare would compete with private insurers to provide coverage for doctors and hospitals costs in six metropolitan areas for six years. The importation of drugs from Canada would be approved only if HHS determines there is no safety risks and that consumers would be saving money.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hastert, R-IL; Bill HR.1 ; vote number 2003-669 on Nov 22, 2003

Voted YES on allowing reimportation of prescription drugs.

Pharmaceutical Market Access Act of 2003: Vote to pass a bill that would call for the Food and Drug Administration to begin a program that would permit the importation of FDA-approved prescription drugs from Australia, Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and South Africa.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Gutknecht, R-MN; Bill HR.2427 ; vote number 2003-445 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted NO on small business associations for buying health insurance.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit the creation of association health plans through which small companies could group together to buy insurance for their employees. Association health plans that cover employees in several states would be excused from many individual state insurance regulations but would be regulated by the Labor Department.
Reference: Small Business Health Fairness Act; Bill HR 660 ; vote number 2003-296 on Jun 19, 2003

Voted NO on capping damages and setting time limits in medical lawsuits.

Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2003: To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Limits the availability of punitive damages, and sets a 3-year limit for suing.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Greenwood, R-PA; Bill HR 5 ; vote number 2003-64 on Mar 13, 2003

Voted NO on allowing suing HMOs, but under federal rules & limited award.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care. It would allow a patient to sue a health maintenance organization in state court but federal, not state, law would govern.
Bill HR 2563 ; vote number 2001-329 on Aug 2, 2001

Voted NO on Prescription Drug Coverage under Medicare.

HR 4680, the Medicare Rx 2000 Act, would institute a new program to provide voluntary prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries through subsidies to private plans. The program would cost an estimated $40 billion over five years and would go into effect in fiscal 2003.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 4680 ; vote number 2000-357 on Jun 28, 2000

Voted YES on banning physician-assisted suicide.

Vote on HR 2260, the Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999, would ban the use of drugs for physician-assisted suicide. The bill would not allow doctors to give lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients, and instead promotes "palliative care," or aggressive pain relief techniques.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Hyde, R-IL; Bill HR 2260 ; vote number 1999-544 on Oct 27, 1999

Voted NO on establishing tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts.

The bill allows all taxpayers to create a tax-exempt account for paying medical expenses called a Medical Savings Account [MSA]. Also, the measure would allow the full cost of health care premiums to be taken as a tax deduction for the self-employed and taxpayers who are paying for their own insurance. The bill would also allow the establishment of "HealthMarts," regional groups of insurers, health care providers and employers who could work together to develop packages for uninsured employees. Another provision of the bill would establish "association health plan," in which organizations could combine resources to purchase health insurance at better rates than they could separately.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Talent, R-MO; Bill HR 2990 ; vote number 1999-485 on Oct 6, 1999

MEDS Plan: Cover senior Rx under Medicare.

Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

Summary of the Medicare Extention of Drugs To Seniors Act (Meds)

MEDS establishes an 80/20 outpatient prescription drug benefit under a new Medicare Part D that will be administered by the Health Care Financing Administration. The plan will cost similar to figures for the Bush prescription drug plan due to this plan’s emphasis on lowering the price of pharmaceuticals.

Premiums and Low-income Assistance:

Premiums would be $24/month in the first year and indexed to a pharmaceutical Sustainable Growth Rate, which will ensure that premiums or drug costs do not increase arbitrarily.

Employer Incentive Program:

Employers providing drug coverage equal to or better than the Medicare coverage receive an incentive payment to maintain such coverage.
Source: CPC Press Release, MEDS Plan 01-CPC3 on Jan 31, 2001

Rated 100% by APHA, indicating a pro-public health record.

Kucinich scores 100% by APHA on health issues

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health. APHA is concerned with a broad set of issues affecting personal and environmental health, including federal and state funding for health programs, pollution control, programs and policies related to chronic and infectious diseases, a smoke-free society, and professional education in public health.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: APHA website 03n-APHA on Dec 31, 2003

Collect data on birth defects and present to the public.

Kucinich sponsored the Birth Defects Prevention Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1114. Became Public Law No: 105-168.
Source: Bill sponsored by 35 Senators and 164 Reps 97-S419 on Mar 11, 1997

Make health care a right, not a privilege.

Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

    The Progressive Caucus is united in its goal of making health care a right, not a privilege. Every person should have access to affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care. We must use our health care dollars efficiently and ensure public accountability in all medical decisions. Based on this goal, we support the following principles:
  1. All Americans, including the 44 million currently without health insurance, deserve to have the health care they need, regardless of ability to pay.
  2. Medicare must remain solvent and available for the millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on the program. The Progressive Caucus supports expanding the program to cover prescription drugs and other needed products and services for beneficiaries. We support a Medicare buy-in for individuals age 55 and older. We support lowering out-of-pocket costs for seniors who currently pay, on average, 20% of their income for health care.
  3. Proposals should be rejected to change traditional Medicare from a defined benefit to a defined contribution or voucher system.
  4. Balanced Budget Act cuts that are negatively affecting patient access to hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies must be restored.
  5. Medicaid must have the resources to continue to provide coverage and care for low-income individuals, including children in the CHIP program.
  6. Individuals with disabilities should retain their health benefits when they return to work and to have access to rehabilitative and other needed services.
  7. Funding and outreach and other programs serving low-income Americans should be expanded. Examples of such programs are the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB), and Qualified Individuals programs; transitional funds for Medicaid recipients who are also welfare-to-work recipients; and for HHS for mental health outreach for the elderly.
Source: CPC Position Paper: Health Care 99-CPC2 on Nov 11, 1999

Other candidates on Health Care: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka

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Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts