BILL BRADLEY: To Release $65B Health Care Plan Today
"Daring in his contest with Vice President Al Gore to take on an issue doomed since the Clinton-Gore administration's first term," Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley is expected today to offer a $65 billion proposal for universal access to health insurance. Bradley told the Associated Press, "When it comes to America's health, this is not the time to be timid. It requires bold action and a national commitment from the president on down to make certain that every American has what should be a basic birthright." His plan would require parents to buy health insurance for their children, with subsidies available to those who cannot afford it. All adults would be able to buy into the congressional health plan, and all individuals would be able to deduct health insurance premiums from their income taxes. Bradley would provide Medicare beneficiaries with an unlimited drug benefit for catastrophic and chronic illnesses, as well as "a new system of integrated medical and social services -- such as housekeeping and transportation -- that would cut down on nursing-home admissions." He said the cost of the plan would be borne by the federal budget surplus, and criticized Gore for not outlining how his health care package would be financed. "I believe it is irresponsible to commit to new programs without also laying the costs before the public so that we can decide together how to pay for them." A Bradley aide stressed that people "who are happy with their plans can keep them. Our sole objective is to expand options." In draft comments, Bradley said, "I know that making health care available to all will not be easy. But the difficulty is a challenge, not a reason to avoid engagement. We can commit ourselves to the proposition that, when it comes to health care, everyone will have the American dream" (Sobieraj, AP/Nando Times, 9/28). The former senator is scheduled to announce his proposal at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time at Valley College in Southern California, as part of a four-day campaign trip to the West Coast (Willman, Los Angeles Times, 9/27).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.