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Joseph Lieberman on Health Care

Democratic Jr Senator (CT), ran for V.P. with Gore, ran for president 2004


Centrist leadership can get more covered by health insurance

Q: What do you make of health care?

A: [We should have a program which]: One, promises when you're born a child in America, you get a membership card in MediKids, covers your insurance. Two, if you lose your job, you will not lose your health insurance. Three, underemployed, self-employed, small business, you can buy into this plan, it'll cost you a lot less, and, incidentally, you'll get drug benefits with it. That's the kind of centrist leadership that produces results.

Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

Universal benefit to all seniors-no $12B for HMOs

Q: How, if at all, would you change the new prescription drug benefit for the elderly?

A: We need to deliver a drug benefit -- but we need to do it right, by providing a universal benefit to all seniors. We should allow real importation of prescription drugs; eliminate premium support demonstration projects; allow Medicare to use its purchasing power to achieve savings in the cost of prescription drugs; and eliminate the $12 billion slush fund for HMOs.

Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, "Medicare" Jan 25, 2004

National health insurance pool-free for poor and children

Q: How would your health plan improve insurance coverage for the new generation?

LIEBERMAN: There is a morally scandalous fact-that that 43 million Americans don't have health insurance, 2 million more than when George Bush became president. I'm proposing to create a national health insurance pool like the one that members of Congress get our insurance from. If you don't have insurance now, you'll be able to get it, probably free, if you're among the low-income working poor. If you're a child, you will be covered by insurance at birth. If you are fired from your work or lose your job, you will not lose your health insurance. MediKids is part of my program. Every child born in America will become a member of MediKids, and it will cover them from birth through 25. Why 25? Because young adults have a hard time affording health insurance, and a lot of them think they're not going to get sick, but they do, and we need to cover them.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Pharmaceutical prices are unfair-import drugs from Canada

Q: Would you encourage state governors to re-import drugs from Canada to try to keep drug prices down?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, unfortunately, we should. And I view this is as a kind of Boston Tea Party of the 21st century. I never attack the drug companies for what they produce. The pharmaceuticals that they produce keep us alive and well. But the pricing is unfair. And it is particularly unfair that Canada slaps price controls on, and our citizens have to pay the full cost of research, marketing, administration of the drug companies. If we begin to allow the legal importation of drugs from Canada, we can speak with our money to the drug companies to treat us more fairly.

Q: Are you encouraging governors and communities to break the law?

LIEBERMAN: We have to make it legal. I would vote, and I have voted for this in the Senate. I would allow the safe importation of drugs, which means to have some basic standards. But send a message to the drug companies: Treat American consumers fairly.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

Allow reimport of drugs with FDA approval & price decontrols

Q: Are you for the reimportation of drugs from Canada?

LIEBERMAN: Yes, I have supported measures to allow for the reimportation of drugs with an FDA approval that it is safe. [But] there's something unfair happening. The American pharmaceutical industry are asking the American people, and the American people alone, to finance the research that leads to drugs. We've got to ask the Canadians who have price controls, the Europeans who have price controls, to begin to pay part of that cost.

Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Rx drug costs whack seniors

The best way to give prescription drugs to people at an affordable cost is to cover prescription drugs under Medicare and to cover the 41 million Americans who don't have health insurance today, because it's they who get whacked by the cost of prescription drugs, not the people who have health insurance.
Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

Too large health programs will force tax increases

Q: How would you cover more of the uninsured? And would the Bush tax cuts have to go in order to do it?

LIEBERMAN: You bet parts of the Bush tax cuts would have to go, and they ought to go. But I disagree with Dean and others who would adopt so large a program that it would force an increase in middle-class taxes. That's not fair. The middle class got the end of the marital tax penalty, child care tax credits and so on. I want to protect those, and we can, with a systematic step-by-step proposal.

Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Medi-Kids: guaranteed care until age 25

I want to create "Medikids." Every baby born in America will leave the hospital not just with a birth certificate but with a Medikids card that will guarantee them health insurance up until the age of 25. You won't have to go down to the welfare office to sign up. You won't be mandated if you don't want to buy plans to cover health insurance. As president, I'm going to bring the right priorities: I will make every American currently uninsured eligible for a high-quality, affordable health insurance.
Source: Democratic Primary Debate, Albuquerque New Mexico Sep 4, 2003

Step by step is the way

This campaign presents our party with a choice about whether we want to go backward to deal with health care or whether we want to go forward with new ideas. We're not going to solve these problems with the kind of big spending Democratic ideas of the past.

We ought to start where Al Gore and I proposed in 2000: expand the children's health insurance program and let their parents buy in to Medicaid at a cheaper rate then they can get in the private market. Step by step is the way to do it.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Return taxes to Clinton-era rates to improve health care

Q: Are you willing to raise taxes to cover everyone?

KUCINICH: We can phase in [an increase] in the payroll tax to 7.7% on all employers and have that be our mainstay of our national health care plan. We have to get the profit out of health care. And that means get the private insurance companies out of health care. Any plan that fails to do that is not going to deliver the best quality universal health care. I introduced HR676, Medicare for all: guaranteed, single payer, universal health care. It's time to have health insurance for the American people, not the insurance companies.

Q: The Republicans are going to say there they go again, Democrats are raising taxes again. Is there anyone willing to rule out raising taxes?

LIEBERMAN: I am not willing to raise taxes to pay for health insurance in [that] way. All I am going to do is put the tax rate back to where it was when Bill Clinton was president, because we did a lot better under Bill Clinton than we are under George Bush.

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

No more big-spending health plans

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 to Gephardt] Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

Texas slow to register kids in federal health insurance

Texas actually ranks 49th of 50 states in providing health insurance for kids. Governor Bush may say that he has a plan to improve children’s health. But, why hasn’t he done it in Texas? The focus of Lieberman’s remarks, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is new. It was created in 1997, providing federal money to the states to cover uninsured children. Texas has been one of the slowest states in signing up children for the program.
Source: Richard P‚rez-Pe¤a, NY Times Sep 9, 2000

Patient Bill of Rights: access; choice; privacy; appeals

Source: Associated Press Aug 31, 2000

Voted to cut Medicare & raise age; now would not

Gore rejected the majority conclusions reached last year by a bipartisan commission on Medicare, saying he would not support raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65, forcing the elderly into managed care, or raising premiums and co-payments.

One of those who has supported such measures in the past is Lieberman, who sided with Republicans in several balanced-budget votes in 1997 to raise the eligibility age and to impose increases in premiums and fees for some Medicare recipients. “It is important to put these votes in context,“ said Lieberman’s spokesman. ”At the time projections were that the system would be bankrupt in four or five years. Senator Lieberman and a lot of other people saw it as necessary to salvage the program.“

Lieberman voted last year against the recommendations of the bipartisan commission to further restrict eligibility and allow some additional charges for recipients. ”His recent record shows he’s very much in synch with the vice president,“ he said.

Source: Kevin Sack & James Dao, NY Times Aug 31, 2000

Health insurance for every American child

We see health care through a different set of eyes. We know that health care is one of the most important problems facing families today. We believe that medical decisions should be made by doctors, not bureaucrats. We believe that senior citizens shouldn’t be stopped from filling a prescription because they can’t afford to pay for it. And Al Gore and I are the only candidates in this race who will extend access to health care coverage to every single child in America.
Source: Speech to the Democrat Convention Aug 16, 2000

Supports health insurance industry (based in Hartford CT)

Lieberman was part of a bipartisan group that tried last year to break a deadlock between the Clinton administration and Republican senators over how to regulate health plans. The administration maintained that the legislation Lieberman favored would have been too generous to insurance companies. Consumer groups and labor unions were among those siding with the administration.

Lieberman has also regularly voted for legislation to limit damages that can be assessed in civil lawsuits. Many of Lieberman’s friends said he had no alternative but to take this position because it was the one favored by the insurance industry. The industry is important to Connecticut’s economy and has generously donated to Lieberman’s campaigns.

But that is not Lieberman’s explanation for his stand. He said the American system of civil law had “gone way off track and become a lottery in which literally a few people do very well but most of the people injured don’t really get adequately compensated.”

Source: David E. Rosenbaum, NY Times, p. A19 Aug 8, 2000

Limited lawsuits against HMOs and automakers

On HMO regulation, he co-sponsored a compromise that omits Medical Savings Accounts and would allow lawsuits against HMOs, but limit them to economic recovery and attorneys’ fees only. He is a sponsor of Auto Choice reform, which would allow car owners to opt out of pain and suffering damages and get much cheaper insurance premiums.
Source: Almanac of American Politics 2000 (Barone & Ujifusa) Jan 1, 2000

Voted YES on allowing importation of Rx drugs from Canada.

S. 812, as amended; Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals Act of 2002. Vote to pass a bill that would permit a single 30-month stay against Food and Drug Administration approval of a generic drug patent when a brand-name company's patent is challenged. The secretary of Health and Human Services would be authorized to announce regulations allowing pharmacists and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from Canada into the United States. Canadian pharmacies and wholesalers that provide drugs for importation would be required to register with Health and Human Services. Individuals would be allowed to import prescription drugs from Canada. The medication would have to be for an individual use and a supply of less than 90-days.
Bill S.812 ; vote number 2002-201 on Jul 31, 2002

Voted YES on allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages.

Vote to provide federal protections, such as access to specialty and emergency room care, and allow patients to sue health insurers in state and federal courts. Economic damages would not be capped, and punitive damages would be capped at $5 million.
Bill S1052 ; vote number 2001-220 on Jun 29, 2001

Voted NO on funding GOP version of Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Vote to pass an amendment that would make up to $300 billion available for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for 2002 through 2011. The money would come from the budget's contingency fund. The amendment would also require a Medicare overhaul.
Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-65 on Apr 3, 2001

Voted YES on including prescription drugs under Medicare.

Vote to establish a prescription drug benefit program through the Medicare health insurance program. Among other provisions, Medicare would contribute at least 50% of the cost of prescription drugs and beneficiaries would pay a $250 deductible
Bill HR.4690 ; vote number 2000-144 on Jun 22, 2000

Voted NO on limiting self-employment health deduction.

The Santorum (R-PA) amdt would effectively kill the Kennedy Amdt (D-MA) which would have allowed self-employed individuals to fully deduct the cost of their health insurance on their federal taxes.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)53; N)47
Reference: Santorum Amdt #1234; Bill S. 1344 ; vote number 1999-202 on Jul 13, 1999

Voted YES on increasing tobacco restrictions.

This cloture motion was on a bill which would have increased tobacco restrictions. [YES is an anti-smoking vote].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)57; N)42; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on a modified committee substitute to S. 1415; Bill S. 1415 ; vote number 1998-161 on Jun 17, 1998

Voted NO on banning human cloning.

This cloture motion was in order to end debate and move to consideration of legislation banning human cloning. [A YES vote opposes human cloning].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)42; N)54; NV)4
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on motion to proceed to S. 1601; Bill S. 1601 ; vote number 1998-10 on Feb 11, 1998

Voted YES on Medicare means-testing.

Approval of means-based testing for Medicare insurance premiums.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)70; N)20
Reference: Motion to table the Kennedy Amdt #440; Bill S. 947 ; vote number 1997-113 on Jun 24, 1997

Voted YES on medical savings acounts.

Vote to block a plan which would allow tax-deductible medical savings accounts.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)52; N)46; NV)2
Reference: Kassebaum Amdt #3677; Bill S. 1028 ; vote number 1996-72 on Apr 18, 1996

Establish "report cards" on HMO quality of care.

Lieberman signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Promote Universal Access and Quality in Health Care
That more than 40 million Americans lack health insurance is one of our society’s most glaring inequities. Lack of insurance jeopardizes the health of disadvantaged Americans and also imposes high costs on everyone else when the uninsured lack preventive care and get treatment from emergency rooms. Washington provides a tax subsidy for insurance for Americans who get coverage from their employers but offers nothing to workers who don’t have job-based coverage.

Markets alone cannot assure universal access to health coverage. Government should enable all low-income families to buy health insurance. Individuals must take responsibility for insuring themselves and their families whether or not they qualify for public assistance.

Finally, to help promote higher quality in health care for all Americans, we need reliable information on the quality of health care delivered by health plans and providers; a “patient’s bill of rights” that ensures access to medically necessary care; and a system in which private health plans compete on the basis of quality as well as cost.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC5 on Aug 1, 2000

Invest funds to alleviate the nursing shortage.

Lieberman sponsored the Nurse Reinvestment Act

Source: Bill sponsored by 39 Senators 01-S706 on Apr 5, 2001

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

Lieberman 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: Joseph Lieberman 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
Abortion
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Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty
Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts