Kerry backs 'Department of Wellness'

Throughout the presidential race, John Kerry has assiduously avoided proposals that might taint him as a traditional big-government liberal. His campaign documents are remarkably free of bureaucracy-building proposals. And in August, Kerry moved to pick up former President Bill Clinton's new-Democrat reinventing government mantle, unveiling a proposal to cut management ranks, freeze the federal travel budget and reduce its vehicle fleet.

Nevertheless, in a speech in Greensboro, N.C., Wednesday, Kerry offered up a proposal for nothing less than a whole new Cabinet department.

"What I want to do, what I'm determined to do, and it's in my health-care plan, is refocus America on something that can reduce the cost of health care significantly for all Americans, which is wellness and prevention," Kerry said, according to the online magazine Slate. "And I intend to have not just a Department of Health and Human Services, but a Department of Wellness."

Kerry didn't elaborate on his idea. He has played up the wellness theme in promoting his overall health-care plan throughout the campaign, and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, has been even more vocal in her support for preventive health initiatives.

In a January 2003, interview with the Boston Herald, Heinz Kerry said she'd fight for a Department of Wellness if her husband were elected.

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