Dick Gephardt on Health Care

Democratic Representative (MO-3); Former Democratic Candidate for President

AdWatch: Criticizes Dean for 11-year-old outdated stances

AD VIDEO: Dean speaking wordlessly, punctuated by ominous sound effects; Gephardt surrounded by supporters.

AD AUDIO: NARRATOR: Did you know Howard Dean called Medicare "one of the worst federal programs ever"? Did you know he supported the Republican plan to cut Medicare by $270 billion? And did you know Howard Dean supported cutting Social Security retirement benefits to balance the budget?

GEPHARDT: I will be a president who will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security.

ANALYSIS: What the ad obscures is that the Dean quotes are at least nine years old and do not reflect the positions he holds today. When Dean called Medicare "one of the worst federal programs" in 1993, he was referring to the way the government ran it. Dean was quoted by a Vermont newspaper in 1995 as saying he could support GOP efforts to "reduce the Medicare growth rate," but the $270 billion figure was not mentioned. Dean did say in 1995 "we need to increase the retirement age", but has since changed his stance.

Source: Ad-Watch of Iowa market, Washington Post, p. A08 Jan 16, 2004


FACTCHECK on Medicare: Gephardt again dragged up a misleading figure from 1995 claiming Dean was in league with Republicans trying to cut Medicare by $270 billion.

GEPHARDT: The Republicans tried to cut Medicare by $270 billion. And Bill Clinton and the Democrats fought them off. At that time, you were head of the governors' association, and you agreed with their proposal.

Source: Fact Check: Dean agreed with Clinton on cuts, not Gingrich Jan 4, 2004

Fact Check: Dean agreed with Clinton on cuts, not Gingrich

FACTCHECK on Medicare: Gephardt again dragged up a misleading figure from 1995 claiming Dean was in league with Republicans trying to cut Medicare by $270 billion.

GEPHARDT: The Republicans tried to cut Medicare by $270 billion. And Bill Clinton and the Democrats fought them off. At that time, you were head of the governors' association, and you agreed with their proposal.

FACTCHECK: Dean did speak approvingly back then of a Republican proposal in the Senate that would have reined in Medicare spending growth by $270 billion over seven years. But if slowing the growth of spending is a "cut" then the Democrats were proposing one, too. The Clinton administration was proposing to slow Medicare spending by $124 billion over the same period.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2004 Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa Jan 4, 2004

Lay aside Bush tax cut to fund healthcare package

Q: If elected, how would you get a Republican-controlled Congress to eliminate tax cuts and pass your health care package?

A: I hope to elect a Democratic Congress when I win the presidency. If that does not happen, I believe I have the ability to convince some Republicans to lay aside the Bush tax cuts in order to get everyone covered with health insurance that can never be taken away.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 3, 2003

Dean sided with Gingrich against Medicare Plan

DEAN: Many of the things that I suggested in 1995, which Dick Gephardt has attacked me for, were actually incorporated into the Clinton plan to save Medicare and Social Security, and has resulted in the savings of over $200 billion.

GEPHARDT: Howard said in 1993 that Medicare was the worst federal program ever. He said that it was the worst thing that ever happened. Howard, you were agreeing with the very plan that Newt Gingrich wanted to pass, which was a $270 billion cut in Medicare. We don't need someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans.

DEAN: That is flat-out false. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich. To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong. I did say that Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully. I've done more for health insurance, Dick Gephardt, than you ever have, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people. And I'll stake my record on health insurance against anybody up here.

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

Tax breaks to all companies to cover all employees

I have a health-care plan that gets everybody guaranteed health care that cannot be taken away. I will bring a plan that says to every employer in the country, "You've got to cover your employees," and I'll give them generous tax credits to get it done.

I will cover part time as well as full time. I'll cover retirees as well as active, and I will give an equal subsidy to every state and local government in this country, so that all public employees are treated the same as private employees with health care in this country.

If you want health care than can never be taken away from you, if you want to make sure that you have guaranteed care where the price won't go up and it won't be taken away, if you want health care that goes to every public employee in this country, state and local government and the like, if you want to give $1.5 billion from the federal government to state and local government here in Iowa in the next three years, then I am your candidate for president.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Subsidize 60% of health costs for all employees

Q: Other candidates have offered lots of criticism of your plan -- it's too expensive. It goes too far, too fast. Gives money to corporations who don't need it. How will your plan cover everyone and yet also control costs?

GEPHARDT: My thoughts come from 25 years of working on this issue in the Congress, including trying to lead the fight to pass the Clinton health care plan in 1993 & 1994. I believe my plan covers the bases and gets down what we need to get done. First of all, it covers everybody. I do it by requiring every employer to cover all of their employees. I cover part time as well as full time. One of the games that's going on is companies like WalMart are dropping people to part time so they don't have to give them health insurance. I solve that problem. This issue is the moral issue of our time. You've got to treat everybody fairly. I give an equal subsidy, 60% of the costs of health care, to public employees. There is not another plan on the table that does that.

Source: AFSCME union debate in Iowa May 17, 2003

Sharing health costs reduces overall costs & reduces worries

We've got to get everybody in this country covered with good health insurance. My plan can pass. And it will do that.

[Regarding] cost: I will save 5% to 7% a year on premiums because we'll finally take care of this problem of uncompensated care, which has been a huge problem in this country.

I've been all over this country. People say to me all the time, I don't think I can continue to afford the family coverage or even the individual coverage. I would solve that problem.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Get everybody covered with health insurance

I want to get everybody covered with health insurance. My son, Matt, is here tonight. When he was two he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We had good health insurance. He recovered. Many a night when we were in the hospital with him, we met other parents of kids who had cancer and many of them did not have insurance. In the richest, most powerful country in the world it is wrong to have anybody in this country without health insurance who can't take care of their loved ones when they need help.
Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Bush tax cuts hurt economy; same $ for health helps economy

LIEBERMAN: If Gephardt's plan were implemented, it would take as much money as the Bush tax cut. And in that sense, it would create the same deficit that the Bush tax cut does. It has no cost containment. We're not going to solve all of our problems with George Bush's big, irresponsible tax cut, and we're not going to solve them all with this kind of big spending. Congress would not pass the Gephardt plan ever, therefore no single American will get insurance that doesn't have it now.

GEPHARDT: My plan also stimulates the economy. And the Bush tax plan has not stimulated the economy. This will allow companies to hire new people. It will put money in people's pockets, because we're going to reduce the cost of their premiums for health care potentially having all that 60% go across to every employee.

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

$172B over 3 years for state employee health care

GEPHARDT [to Graham]: Most states are in horrible deficits. Many are laying off teachers, and [cutting] Medicaid. My health care plan sends a $172 billion over three years to the states for health care for their employees, [including] $2.5 billion for South Carolina. What plan would you bring forward to help the states through these tough times they're in now?

GRAHAM: You're absolutely right that this is a very difficult time for states. What we ought to do [first] is recognize that a substantial amount of the problems that the states are experiencing is because of actions that we have taken at the federal level. Such as, not funding Homeland Security, not funding the No Child Left Behind legislation. What I would do is for a two-year period increase the federal share of Medicaid, so that we could give relief to the states in one of the fastest growing areas of their budget.

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

Help corporations give people needed health insurance

Q: In April, Gephardt put out a plan to cover 97% of Americans. He doubles the tax deduction to employers, and pays for it by repealing almost all of the Bush tax cut.

EDWARDS: All of us are for universal health care. What I differ with is taking almost $1 trillion out of the pocket of working families making $30-$40,000 a year, giving it to the biggest corporations in America who are already providing health insurance, and not insuring another additional American. That's taking money that people desperately need, giving it to the very people that we've had trouble with. It feels like saying, `You're in good hands with Enron.'

GEPHARDT: He's wrong on my plan. People get their health insurance from corporations. My plan requires every company who gets the 60% credit to pass it along to their employees and to offer their employees plans. This is not helping the corporations, this is helping corporations give people the thing they most need, which is health insurance.

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

Ensure that all seniors get the care they deserve

Our proposals say to the elderly and their families: you don’t have to settle for inadequate care or worry that you will be a burden to loved ones. Democrats understand the struggles the elderly and the disabled, and the families that care for them, face every day. By providing tax incentives, cracking down on substandard nursing homes, and promoting higher standards for care-givers, we’ll ensure that all seniors get the care they deserve.
Source: Congressional Democrats’ web site, “Families First” Jan 1, 2001

More funding for Meaningful Prescription Drug Coverage

Congressman Gephardt in June introduced H.R. 4770, which would allow all Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of income, the option to enroll in a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit program. Under this program, Medicare would initially pay half of all prescription drug costs, up to $2000, and all drug costs over and above $4000. These benefits would increase over time as consumer prices rise in general.
Source: Press Release, “Prescription Drug Coverage” Jun 29, 2000

Focus on seniors; no blank checks to insurance companies

Medicare has worked for over 35 years. Gephardt supports a real prescription drug proposal that will ensure that no senior is left out in the cold when it comes to prescription drug coverage. The goal in Congress should not be to write a blank check to insurance companies, with the hope that they will offer coverage in your area at a price that middle-income seniors can afford. Instead, the goal must be to allow every senior the option to enroll in a plan that is affordable, definable, and guaranteed.
Source: Press Release, “Prescription Drug Coverage” Jun 29, 2000

Federal tax breaks for small business health coverage

Back in 1993, we rejected the idea of raising federal taxes to provide health insurance for anyone not covered through an employer, and I think we were right to do so. However, we did subsequently pass an initiative to provide states with federal money to help cover more children, and in many states it’s making a significant difference. I suspect most small-business owners would like to cover their employees but find it hard to foot the bills. A tax incentive might make the difference.
Source: An Even Better Place, by Dick Gephardt, p.120 Jul 2, 1999

Health care reform: no selective insurance

We will never reform Medicare unless we reform the whole health care system. We must have health care reform. We must get rid of insurance companies who only want to compete by selecting only healthy people or who want to deny coverage to people who are or who become sick. Let us put them on a level playing field and make them compete for health care resources.
Source: United We Stand America Conference, p.263 Aug 12, 1995

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 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 NO 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

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

Gephardt 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

Other candidates on Health Care: Dick Gephardt 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

Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts