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Senator Kerry Stakes Out Ground As a D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T…

by Tay Tay

By now you have heard or read about Senator Kerry’s speech at Faneuil Hall today. I was there in the back of the Hall, struggling to find a network to let me live-blog something out of the place, but it was not to be. These are some thoughts that I had while listening to the Senator speak:

Senator Kerry stakes out ground as a D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T…

Senator Kerry was preceeded to the podium by two speakers, Thomas Farrington, who, like Kerry himself, is a prostrate cancer survivor and by the Senator’s youngest daughter, Vanessa Kerry, who is one year away from her medical degree. Mr. Farrington pointed out the particular problems that African-American men have in getting medical treatment because of the cost and because of institutional problems in the delivery of preventive care to minority communities in America. He spoke of working with Kerry on getting help for minority men in getting treatment for this disease. Mr. Farrington pointed out that he, as a black male, has a far greater chance of getting and ultimately dying of this curable disease simply because he is African-American.

Farrington’s remarks were not chosen at random. If I was to use any phrase to describe Senator Kerry’s remarks today it would be Democratic. (Large D.) The Senator spoke pointedly about the problems that low income people have in affording health care. He pointedly mentioned that the delivery of health care in poor and minority community is far worse than it is in middle or upper class areas. In other words, the good Senator spoke as a Democrat. As he did in his speech about Iraq, he claimed a moral high ground and spoke of health care not as a privilege that should be afforded some people, but as a right that all Americans should have at birth.

Kerry is staking out ground here that separates him from the Republican plans that only partially cover part of the population by design. Kerry’s plans cover those who have no other recourse, those who can’t use the President’s Health Savings Accounts because there is no money left over to go to those fraudulent systems for a lot of people. The Senator’s point in comparing the Bush non-plan for delivery of health care to the way they conducted emergency relief for Katrina victims is that Republicans are once again abandoning the most vulnerable Americans to neglect. Democrats have traditionally spoken for such people and advocated for a certain set of rights for all Americans that are not contingent on ability to pay.

Senator Feingold released a plan last week that he is proposing that would allow the individual states to choose how they would cover their citizen’s health care needs. While Feingold’s plan does mention that states would have to have some minimum coverage federally mandated, it does not have the sweep or the overall coverage that Kerry is aiming at here. Kerry specifically today proded Democrats not to nibble around the edges of this problem, not to pretend that a few dollars here or a few fixes there would really solve the problem. He is asking for a grand plan that really addresses the whole problem and that does so with an idea to including all Americans in the coverage.

Spoken like a true Democrat. Senator Kerry has been staking out his own ground this year and really pushing his Party to differentiate themselves from the Republicans. He did so when he called for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and specifically wanted to set a deadline to begin to bring the troops home. A lot of Democrats criticized this within the Senate and complained that Kerry’s plan was too far outside of the main stream. The Senator did this last month when he used Faneuil Hall to introduce a comprehensive environmental and energy policy that included mandates for fuel usage and strict terms for how to begin to deal with a whole host of environmental problems. Again, there are a lot of Democrats who would rather not draw attention to the fact that they differ with the Republicans so profoundly on issues that cost money. And again today, Senator Kerry laid out a plan that is in direct opposition to the ideas of the Republicans on health care, which are mainly encapsulated in the Associated Health Plans and Bush’s Health Savings Accounts.

Kerry has a better plan. It is a Democratic plan. It presents a clear choice and a clear break with current policy and it is aimed at a wider group of citizens than anything that the Repubs have laid out. It is a bold and distinct choice and not something that just fiddles with the edges of the problem.

7 Responses to “Senator Kerry Stakes Out Ground As a D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T…”

  1. Great post, TayTay!

    I just found that JK has a piece up at HuffPo, too…I don’t see it linked anywhere:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-kerry/standing-for-something_b_26187.html

  2. Hi MH

    I have not had a chance to post the Huffpo here yet… running out to pick up my teen – great post from Tay Tay!

  3. Great post!

    Senator Kerry understands that America needs leadership that addresses the needs of the needy and does not add to that burden.

    It is evident that the Republicans with their attempt to attach estate tax relief for multi-millionaires to the minimum wage adjustment bill know who their base really is. Multi-millionaires who are concerned about paying their fair share and who do not wish to spare a dime out of their millions for the support of a nation that made their success possible.

    When reading the Boston Globe column written by the Senator, it is clear he understands the “flat-world” problems portrayed by Thomas Friedman. It will be industry, competing globally, that will be the force behind Universal Health Care that is subsidized by the government. The burden on America’s corporations is only matched by the burden on America’s uninsured.

    Thank you for the post and thank-you Senator Kerry!

    Bob

  4. Excellent post TayTay. Great pics. Nice health care plan even though those around the blosphere that complain about not having universal health care for all, but don’t people want the kids to have coverage too?

    Mr. Farrington is right about poor and low income people not getting the same health care that higher income folks get. Good to see he has survived this disease.

    The senator looks very presidential. Vanessa looks good too.

  5. Kerry has gone farther with this than anyone since Bill. And he has a better grasp of the intricacies of the problem.

    I would have liked him to tie the medical error rate with the electronic health record. Although the error rate includes other important sources (mostly related to staffing ratios)- the health history is one of the most important and time consuming aspects of care. If you don’t spend enough time, you don’t have enough information to choose tests, diagnoses and treatment appropriately.

    Health histories, or personal health records (PHR), do not change a lot except when a person has a significant health issue. Then the new information is added to the base. But the base does not have to be regathered entirely during every new visit or ER admission. All of the details the patient may not remember at the time of the visit are in the data base. And if it is recorded properly, the physician can read through the data base quickly to get a large percentage of the information s/he needs, and then spend more time filling in new information or changes.

    Kids First, no ifs, no ands, no buts. AMEN

  6. Ginny,

    I’m pretty sure that Kerry did address electronic health records as part of his health care proposals during the campaign.

  7. Thanks for the pics Tay Tay……….one of these days I am going to have to drive to Boston (from Ohio) and see one of these great Fannieul speeches that are now coming about every 40 days (YESS! I hope this keeps happening until ’06 and ’08, I swear they keep me from “losing it” ;). I usually don’t find out about them until the same day, if anyone knows of a better source with advance warning please let me know (this site is the best so far ;)

    BTW unlike “Disent”, “Energy”, etc. I can’t find video or audio of this speech. Can anyone post a link, even if it’s a non-professional recording? I am thinking about starting a domain that sponsors “the spoken word of JK” and the 3 speeches from Fan will definitely be a great place to begin.

    John Kerry has always been a great speaker and motivator, but lately he has surpassed all expections. Reading his material is great, listening/watching them is unbelievable, and seeing a speech (as I did earlier this May in Ohio) is totally mind-boggling. I knew he would be a great president in ’04, but his style recently is so powerful he could capture a vast majority nowadays.

    Javelin