AL GORE: Accuses Bush of ‘Playing Games’ with Health
Challenging Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) to "show us whose side he is on," Vice President Al Gore yesterday once again linked his rival to a "do-nothing-for-people Congress" and urged him to support a bipartisan patients' bill of rights, the New York Times reports. On the campaign trail at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where campaign aides displayed boxes of the game "Operation" they had labelled as "Bush's Health Plan," Gore said the lack of patient protections under the current health care system forces doctors to "'play games' with the truth in dealing with insurance companies." He added, "It's time to give these medical decisions back to the doctors. We have got to rise up and demand the leaders of this ... Congress put the people first for a change." As the "de facto head of the [Republican] party," Bush, the presumed GOP presidential nominee, and GOP congressional leaders are "beholden to the drug companies who opposed meaningful patient protections or prescription drug benefits," Gore charged (Henneberger, 7/12). According to Gore, the Republican Party has taken in more than $8.6 million in the past three years from groups against the patients' bill of rights, while Bush has received over $1.4 million from the insurance industry. By comparison, a Gore spokesperson said the vice president has accepted only $285,000 in donations from insurance companies. Releasing a list of patient protections Bush signed into Texas law in 1997, the Bush campaign accused Gore of "shifting blame for his administration's failures." Bush said he "has reservations" that the bipartisan Dingell-Norwood bill would override state protections, while the Republican alternative may be "too limited." Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett added, however, that Bush "understands that there are good provisions included in both bills and the Congress will seek compromise" (Gold, Los Angeles Times, 7/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.