In a story about Sen. John Kerry’s promise to Florida seniors yesterday to “protect Social Security and Medicare,” Jim Vandehei of the Washington Post writes:
“Kerry said he would send back to Congress the new Medicare law that provides a prescription drug benefit, but he has not detailed the changes he has in mind. At several stops, Kerry said he would repeal or pull back benefits for insurance companies and upper-income Americans, which would require major revisions to the new law.”
Did Kerry really make it through the entire primary season up to this point without giving any more details than that on his plans for Medicare? No.
A quick check of Kerry’s Website reveals his “Four-Step Plan to Restore Medicare,” in which he pledges to lower prescription drug costs; allow seniors to choose their doctors; expand and strengthen prescription drug coverage; and ensure that seniors have a Medicare drug plan, rather than having to turn to HMOs for such a benefit.
Today’s New York Times provides some additional information, reporting that Kerry “has said he wants to ‘allow individuals, pharmacists, wholesalers and distributors to import F.D.A.-approved prescription drugs from other countries at lower prices.’”
And a Feb. 25 piece in the Los Angeles Times tells us that Kerry “would repeal the section that bars the government from negotiating directly with drug firms for lower prices … oppose(s) the law’s restrictions on importing U.S.-made drugs from Canada, and … would require the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that safe, cheaper drugs are made available to all Americans.”
Admittedly, none of this amounts to an in-depth policy proposal, and it seems certain that Kerry’s campaign will have to produce something far more detailed than the “Four-Step Plan” before November. But taken together, it does go well beyond the information Vandehei provides — that Kerry would “repeal or pull back benefits for insurance companies and upper-income Americans” — and certainly seems to contradict Vandehei’s assertion that Kerry “has not detailed the changes he has in mind” on Medicare.
In a campaign as short on policy discussions as this one has been so far, a little extra information can go a long way.