Heinz Kerry offers support system for women
A medical plan would be paid for by repealing tax cuts to the wealthiest.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Teresa Heinz Kerry wants to help women succeed.
That is what the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told about 50 supporters, mostly women, during a quickly planned campaign stop Wednesday at the Crisis Center of Lawrence County.
Heinz Kerry is in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio this week talking about women's issues in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the 19th Amendment -- which gave women the right to vote.
Heinz Kerry talked about her husband's plans for tax cuts to small businesses, individuals and farmers for health care costs and the need for a greater emphasis on health and preventive medicine. Diabetes treatment alone costs about $60 billion a year in this country, she said.
"That means we have to feed the kids so they don't have adult-onset diabetes," she said.
She also touched on Kerry's plan to provide federally subsidized catastrophic coverage in health care. After a private health insurer spends $50,000, the federal government would pay 75 percent of the medical costs for any catastrophic illness, she said.
The rest would be paid by the patient and the company providing the insurance.
Heinz Kerry said initially her husband's plan for health care would provide a $1,000 decrease in medical premiums, but over the long run it creates behavioral incentives to remain healthy.
The plan would also give anyone access to the same health care package offered to government officials, she said.
Heinz Kerry said every child would be provided with health care coverage from birth.
"We need to build children's lives so they will be good, well lives that don't end up in prison," she said. "It all comes back to health."
These changes in health coverage would be paid for by repealing the tax cut given to the wealthiest Americans under George W. Bush, she said. That would produce about $900 billion to spend on health care reform, she added.
Heinz Kerry also touched on societal changes that have left women without the support systems of extended family that past generations relied upon.
She went on to talk about how men and women digest their daily stresses differently. Women want to chat and solve problems while men find other outlets like sports or watching television, she said.
But women no longer have sisters, aunts and cousins nearby to talk to about their daily stresses.
"We've robbed ourselves of the opportunity to digest our daily lives," she said.
Heinz Kerry called it the "tend and mend" approach where women need to gather and talk about their problems to make them feel better.
"We don't lead a very smart, supportive life. Add to that the loss of jobs, huge costs of health care and prescription drugs, schools not teaching our children as well as they should and the time spent on transportation for many people," she said.
Later in the afternoon she met Democrats at the Hudson Lunch in downtown for a private talk that did not include the media. Heinz Kerry then went to Beaver County, Pa., to open a new campaign office.