GOLDEN - Census figures showing a rise in uninsured Americans prove the Bush administration is hurting the nation, Sen. John Edwards charged. The Democratic vice presidential candidate running with Sen.
John Kerry spoke Thursday to several thousand people at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at a town hall meeting to discuss health care. Census data released Thursday show that the number of Americans without health insurance increased by 1.4 million between 2002 and 2003, raising the number of uninsured to 45 million. “Unfortunately, this is what we’ve seen year after year after year for the last 3½ or four years,” said Edwards, chiding Bush’s request for four more years to continue “doing good” for the nation. “I just don’t know if America can take that kind of good for four more years,” he said. “America deserves bet- ter, and we can do better.” Edwards said his and Kerry’s plan would turn the nation’s health care statistics around. Edwards called for Congress to pass a Patients Bill of Rights that would give doctors and patients the ability to veto decisions by health insurance companies on treatment. Additionally, he called for universal health coverage for children and proposed that all Americans be able to access the comprehensive health insurance offered to members of Congress. Edwards said he and Kerry would seek to reverse a law that bans Americans from purchasing cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and would support a new tax credit of as much as $1,000 per family to help Americans pay insurance premiums. “We know what needs to be done; we just need to do it,” Edwards said. Bush administration officials countered that the Kerry-Edwards health plan amounts to a government takeover of the health system funded by taxpayers. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson defended Bush’s health care policy in the face of the disappointing health insurance numbers. “The president is investing significantly in health care technology to bring down the cost of delivering medical care, and he continues to press for medical liability reform as frivolous lawsuits and defensive medicine continue to drive up health care costs,” he said. Edwards told supporters at the town hall meeting that Bush “has no health care plan, which is remarkable.” Edwards also acknowledged, however, that the health plan backed by him and Kerry would not be inexpensive. He and Kerry want to keep tax cuts in place for the middle class, but “we do want to roll back Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans.” CONTACT THE WRITER: (303) 837-0613 or firstname.lastname@example.org