AL GORE: Says Bradley’s Health Plan Short-Changes HIV/AIDS Patients
Vice President Al Gore said over the weekend that Democratic presidential rival Bill Bradley's proposed health plan "would devastate tens of thousand of people with long-term debilitating diseases such as AIDS," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "The truth is he just made a catastrophic mistake in the design of his health care plan," Gore said in an interview with the Chronicle, adding, "And since the day that he unveiled his plan in September, he has been backpedaling in an effort to fill the gaps and explain away the unexplainable." Bradley's health plan would dismantle Medicaid and replace it with a voucher system, allowing families to buy private insurance. Under the plan, people ages 19-64 could join the same health plan used by members of Congress and federal employees. Gore, who was in San Jose for the state Democratic convention, "lambasted Bradley's health plan, charging it would damage people living with AIDS and other devastating illnesses by doing away with Medicaid." He said, "Fifty percent of the people with AIDS are on Medicaid. ... Medicaid has relatively generous benefits, negotiated painstakingly over time, with special attention to disabilities and AIDS." He added, "Medicaid provides prescription drug benefits. It provides benefits many private health insurance plans do not. The idea that you can substitute a $150-a-month voucher for Medicaid and hope to get benefits nearly approaching those benefits, including prescription drug benefits, is a fiction." Gore said the private insurance market has not been a "friendly environment" for HIV/AIDS patients.
The Bradley camp responded to Gore's charges, arguing that Gore "consistently mischaracterized" Bradley's plan. Kristin Ludecke, Bradley's deputy press secretary, said, "The Bradley health plan recognizes that people with disabilities, as well as people with chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS and mental illnesses, have different needs and their health insurance will cost more. So in its cost estimates, it sets aside the full amount of money currently spent through Medicaid for the disabled in a 'special needs pool' to pay for the same level of care through private