Kerry Links Jobs and Health Care Costs

By Matea Gold, LA Times Staff Writer

DERRY, N.H. — Sen. John F. Kerry assailed President Bush on Thursday for the state of the nation’s healthcare, saying that spiraling healthcare costs had slowed the growth of jobs.

To support his charge, the Democratic presidential candidate cited a study he commissioned that found some employers that offered extensive healthcare plans had cut full-time jobs to save insurance costs. With the study, Kerry sought to link two of the campaign’s key domestic issues — the job market and healthcare.

“It doesn’t take four years to understand that people are getting crunched by the cost of healthcare,” he said at a gathering outside a Colonial home in a neighborhood here.

According to the study by Laura D’Andrea Tyson, President Clinton’s onetime top economic advisor who now is dean of the London Business School, and UCLA professor Sarah Reber, U.S. industries with the best health benefits reported significant job losses between 2000 and 2002.

Tyson and Reber said rising healthcare premiums caused these employers to scale back their hiring.

“Many have begun hiring more part-time employees and temporary employees, without any benefits, who often don’t get health insurance at all,” Kerry said during a speech in Boston shortly before his appearance in Derry. “You tell me: Is that the kind of economy we’re trying to build? An economy where Americans need to go downward in order to compete?”

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