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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE | AD WATCH

President Bush on Healthcare

September 14, 2004

This 30-second television commercial, unveiled Monday by President Bush's campaign, is scheduled to run this week on national cable channels and on local broadcasts in several hotly contested states.

Script: Bush: "I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message."

Female voice: "On healthcare, President Bush and our leaders in Congress have a practical plan: Allow small businesses to join together to get lower insurance rates big companies get. Stop frivolous lawsuits against doctors. Health coverage you can take with you. The liberals in Congress and Kerry's plan: Washington bureaucrats in control; a government-run healthcare plan; $1.5-trillion price tag. Big government in charge. Not you. Not your doctor."

Images: The spot opens with a close-up of Bush smiling and a picture of him with his wife, Laura. It segues to a picture of a computer. Words flash on the monitor to highlight the Bush healthcare plan and a Republican summary of Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry's plan. Various people are shown gazing at the screen as if they are trying to compare the two.

Analysis: This is Bush's second advertisement attacking Kerry on healthcare in less than a week, a sign of the issue's importance. The Census Bureau estimates the number of uninsured Americans rose to 45 million in 2003 -- up from about 41 million in 2001. In addition, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group, reports that the cost of insurance has risen an average of 11.2% this year -- the fourth year in a row of double-digit percentage increases. Bush's approach to the problem is more modest than Kerry's. A conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that the president's plan for tax-free health savings accounts and other steps to expand coverage would cost $128.6 billion over 10 years and yield 6.7 million newly insured people. The institute says the Kerry plan to expand coverage -- through subsidies to Medicaid, existing state health programs and other means -- would cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years and yield 27.3 million newly insured. Kerry's campaign disputes the price tag. Democratic analyst Kenneth Thorpe, an Emory University health economist, pegs the cost of the senator's plan at $653 billion over 10 years.

Compiled by Times staff writer Nick Anderson

Los Angeles Times

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