In 1993, when the Clinton administration was just getting started, Senator Moynihan urged them to start work on welfare reform immediately. Clinton said no, he needed to take care of health insurance first, because how could you expect low-income parents to give up the guarantee of health insurance from Medicaid for jobs that didn't provide health insurance. Well, as everyone knows, the health insurance proposal died, and by the time Clinton turned to welfare reform, the Republicans controlled Congress.
With that history, I'm reluctant to say that the health insurance problem needs to be solved before we can try to address work-family issues. But the linkage of health insurance to employment is probably the single largest barrier to high-quality part-time jobs. As the cost of health insurance doesn't go up with the number of hours someone works, it makes sense for employers to want to get as much possible work out of their current workforce rather than to hire more people for fewer hours each.
Kerry supports a number of changes that would expand access to health insurance, but doesn't propose to break the basic link between employment and insurance. He would address the problem that Amy raised -- that states aren't enrolling all the eligible children under SCHIP -- by providing incentives to states that expand enrollment.
The statistic that I've heard is that it costs the automakers over $1,000 more per car to build a car in Detroit than to build the same car in Canada, because of health insurance. I don't understand why employers aren't demanding that government take over their health insurance costs.