Monday, July 31, 2006

Kerry proposes universal coverage by 2012

Glen Johnson, AP

BOSTON - Sen. John Kerry on Monday will propose requiring all Americans to have health insurance by 2012, "with the federal government guaranteeing they have the means to afford it."

The Massachusetts Democrat, whose name is figuring prominently in 2008 White House speculation, will repeat his 2004 presidential campaign call for expanding the federal Medicaid program to cover children.

In a speech scheduled for midday Monday at Faneuil Hall in Boston, he will advocate creating a program to cover catastrophic cases so an employer providing insurance doesn't have to pass the cost to his other workers, and offering Americans the ability to buy into the same insurance program used by federal workers, such as members of Congress.

Kerry will propose to pay for the program by repealing tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration that benefit those earning over $200,000 annually. He is not expected to immediately elaborate on how he would get his insurance mandate enacted into law.

"One of my biggest regrets is that fear talk trumped the health care talk, and that we are less safe abroad and less healthy at home because of that," Kerry will say according to the prepared text of remarks he planned to deliver.

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Big talk there, Kerry. Where were you in 2004?