John Kerry’s campaign has run commercials about failed Bush administration health-care policies using a New Hampshire couple as an example.



Mary Ann Knowles

In speeches across the country, including his nomination acceptance speech, Kerry has talked about how Mary Ann Knowles was forced to work every day during 16 weeks of chemotherapy just to maintain her health insurance.

Yesterday, as Kerry visited the state and again invited John and Mary Ann Knowles to be a part of a campaign stop, reports surfaced in two newspapers that the story wasn’t true.

In interviews with the New Hampshire Sunday News this month, John Knowles said his family has good health insurance, and his wife’s employer said the couple’s story “wasn’t really the best example” for Kerry’s argument.

Yesterday, the Manchester Union Leader published a front-page editorial condemning Kerry for the distortion.

While John Knowles, a former technical writer in the high-tech industry, has been unemployed for two years, his wife is a communications specialist for Elderhostel, a nonprofit travel company. She was diagnosed with cancer last summer.

However, Mary Ann Knowles was not forced to work every day during her chemotherapy. In fact, she was eligible for 26 weeks of disability leave, as well as sick days, of which she only took a handful.

According to a report in the Union Leader, John Knowles said his wife could not afford to take disability because it would have meant a drop in the family’s income.

In an e-mail to campaign supporters last month, Kerry wrote that Mary Ann’s story “represents the predicament so many Americans are living with: unreliable access to health care and skyrocketing costs.”

“We are reaching out to people who have expressed an interest in health care and who have already shared their stories,” such as those who have written in to the candidate’s website, campaign spokesman Eric Schultz said. “People who are interested in health care and have a personal and compelling story to share.”

Schultz added that Kerry “will continue to talk about families like the Knowles because his plan will help families like the Knowles. Under John Kerry’s plan, the Knowleses would always have the peace of mind to know she would be guaranteed affordable group coverage, the same plan members of Congress have, at an affordable price and with the benefits she needs.”

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