AL GORE: Features Health Care on Campaign Trail
Continuing his "progress and prosperity" tour in Pennsylvania, Vice President Al Gore focused on health care issues, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gore proposed using some of the nation's record surplus to support nursing homes, hospitals and other health care providers that lost funding under the 1997 Balanced Budget Act (Gold, 6/15). Gore did not detail how much these givebacks would total. Aides said he is waiting for the new budget estimates, expected this summer. The vice president also said that the increased surplus will enable him to implement his prescription drug benefit plan for seniors in 2002, rather than the original deadline set in 2006 (Harwood, Wall Street Journal, 6/15). Gore restated his support for a Medicare "lockbox," that "could not be raided by Congress, taking away the 'temptation of seeing Medicare as a piggy bank.'" He also called for a patients' bill of rights and a law banning discrimination based on genetic makeup (Los Angeles Times, 6/15). Gore's health agenda also calls for the creation of a "Health Care Trust Fund" to protect the initiatives he has proposed, including an expansion of health benefits for children, working parents, the self-employed and small business owners (Wall Street Journal, 6/15). Republican presidential hopeful, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, criticized Gore's tour, portraying the vice president as "an old-fashioned, big-government liberal." Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer said, "It sounds like the only thing Al Gore 'trusts' is the federal government." But Gore countered, "There will be no new bureaucracies, no new agencies or organizations because not only is the era of big government over, the era of old government is over, too" (Enda, Miami Herald, 6/14).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.