John Kerry says families are being squeezed by the high cost of health care

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry Wednesday traveled to Orlando, Fla., where he held a town hall meeting at Englewood Neighborhood Center with families who are being squeezed by the high cost of health care. Under George Bush, too many families are getting priced out of the health care market as rising health costs strain their ability to afford quality, reliable health care coverage. At the event, Kerry emphasized that his plan will address rising health care costs and provide affordable, quality and reliable coverage to America's families.

"Everywhere I go on the campaign trail, I hear the same stories," Kerry said. "Families are struggling to pay their medical bills. Seniors are giving up meals to pay for medicine. Parents are working two jobs just to insure their children, and they are getting no help at all from their President in Washington."

Kerry noted that health care costs have skyrocketed under President Bush. Since he took office, the cost of family health insurance has increased by almost 50 percent for employees -- a total premium increase of nearly $2,700. Despite promising to help in his 2000 campaign, George Bush has done nothing to help make health care more affordable. In fact, the few proposals he has put forward would actually make matters worse for families.

"Last November, this President came right here to Englewood to talk about his Medicare bill and how it would help seniors afford prescriptions," Kerry said. "Now imagine if we had a President who went back to Washington and passed a bill that helped his friends at Englewood instead of his friends at the big drug companies? Imagine if we had a President who made sure you could buy drugs cheaply and safely from Canada instead if telling us we can't? When I'm President, you won't have to imagine anymore because when I'm President, that's exactly what we'll do."

To illustrate Kerry's commitment to alleviating the health care crisis, the Kerry campaign today released a series of vignettes that recount what would happen to five individuals living in Florida under the Kerry and Bush health care plans. In each case, the individuals do substantially better under Kerry.

For example, Carl and Cathy Crane's family would save $3,298 and have access to a policy that covers their son's pre-existing asthma problems. Single waitress Alice, who earns approximately $16,000 a year and does not have a work place insurance plan, would save $1,529 under Kerry. And the Burrows family, which receives family insurance through John's manufacturing job, would not be eligible for savings under Bush but save $900 with Kerry.

"We need to address our health care crisis," Kerry said. "We can take common sense steps today that will save lives, create jobs, increase paychecks and help businesses grow. We can do this. And when I'm President, we will."

Kerry also announced a new web feature at http://www.johnkerry.com that will allow people across the country to write-in and share their stories about how they are being affected by America's health care crisis.

Kerry's plan will alleviate health care costs for families while providing increased choice and quality. He will make health care more affordable for all employers and employees by helping out with certain high cost health cases -- up to $1,000 in premium relief, and expand access and choice by allowing Americans access to the same range of affordable health care plans that members of Congress get today. In addition, Kerry will make health insurance more affordable by providing tax credits for individuals and small businesses who buy into these plans, and insure all children and millions more adults by encouraging states to expand Medicaid eligibility for low-income children and families. Finally, Kerry will cut health care costs by allowing prescription drug reimportation and eliminating wastes through a series of reforms that will improve quality while reducing costs.

Kerry is on day three of a four-day campaign swing where he is talking about his plan to build a stronger America by providing affordable, quality and reliable health care coverage to Americans across the country. Monday, in Edinboro, Pa., Kerry discussed how he will help struggling families by offering relief from staggering health care costs that have increased four times as fast as wages in the last year. Yesterday, in Louisville, Ky., Kerry offered his plan to help small businesses cut costs and create jobs by bringing down health care costs. The campaign swing will end tomorrow in Little Rock, Ark., focusing on making health care more affordable for America's veterans.

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