Bush Outlines Health Care Proposals in Speech to Republican National Convention
President Bush, who formally accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Sept. 2 at the Republican National Convention, in his acceptance speech outlined "relatively modest" proposals to expand access to health care and address other domestic issues over the next four years, the New York Times reports (Nagourney/Stevenson, New York Times, 9/3).
In his "often eloquent and at times visionary speech," Bush focused on "long-term changes" that would help build a society that allows "more Americans to provide for their own retirement and health care," but he offered "relatively few new specifics" on his agenda, the Los Angeles Times reports (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 9/3).
According to the Wall Street Journal, Bush, who sought "to portray himself as more than a wartime leader," introduced an "ambitious second-term agenda" that is "heavily laden with promises to tackle a host of domestic challenges," such as a proposal to allow small businesses to establish association health plans and health savings accounts for employees (Hitt/Calmes, Wall Street Journal, 9/3). Bush said that more than half of uninsured U.S. residents are "small-business employees and their families," adding, "In an ownership society, more people will own their health care plans." Bush said that HSAs would "give workers the security of insurance against major illness ... and the freedom of knowing you can take your account with you whenever you change jobs" (Bush speech text, New York Times, 9/3). Bush also said that he would seek to expand health coverage for low-income U.S. residents (Page, USA Today, 9/3).
He promised to ensure that "every poor county in America has a community or rural health center" and to lead an "aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not signed up" in SCHIP. "We will not allow a lack of attention or information to stand between these children and the health care they need," Bush said. He also said that the "explosion of frivolous lawsuits" in the United States has led to increased medical malpractice insurance premiums, which have forced "too many good doctors, especially OB/GYNs," to leave their practices. "To make health care more affordable and accessible, we must pass medical liability reform now," Bush said. He added that "in all we do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C." (Bush speech text, New York Times, 9/3).
In addition, Bush "recited his accomplishments" over the past four years, such as the enactment of the new Medicare law, and criticized Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) for his opposition to the law and HSAs, USA Today reports (Keen, USA Today, 9/3).
Bush said that the Medicare law offers beneficiaries "immediate help buying medicine" and will provide a new prescription drug benefit in 2006 to help fulfill a "moral responsibility to honor America's seniors" (Bush speech text, New York Times, 9/3).
Vice President Dick Cheney on Sept. 1 at the convention promoted the Bush record on domestic issues such as health care as part of a speech focused on national security, Los Angeles Times reports (Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, 9/2).
Cheney said, "Our nation has the best health care in the world, and President Bush is making it more affordable and accessible to all Americans." He added that Bush would "reform medical liability so the system serves patients and good doctors, not personal injury lawyers" (Cheney speech text, Washington Post, 9/2).
Speakers at the convention on Sept. 31 focused on Medicare reform and other domestic issues that Bush promoted in his 2000 campaign and "testified that he had made great headway in delivering on his promises," the New York Times reports. Several speakers praised the decision by Bush to limit federal funding for embryonic stem cell research "as a sign of the party's stance regarding human life," the Times reports (Purdum, New York Times, 9/1). In addition, speakers said that Bush had "fulfilled the compassionate conservatism promise of the last campaign" through health care and education reforms and that he "would do more in those areas if re-elected," the Washington Post reports.
Speakers also focused on the support Bush has provided for breast cancer research and faith-based and community service programs (Broder, Washington Post, 9/1). According to the Wall Street Journal, convention speakers on Aug. 31 included several "social moderates," such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who supports abortion rights, to "attract swing voters and challenge those who view the party as intolerant of those who don't share its conservative social stands" (Calmes/Hitt, Wall Street Journal, 9/1). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Sens. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and first lady Laura Bush also spoke on Tuesday (Washington Post, 9/1).
The Republican Party at the convention on Aug. 30 approved a platform, including its position on health care issues, the New York Times reports. Frist presented the 93-page document, titled "A Safer World, A More Hopeful America," which was "produced under the tight control of the Bush forces," according to the Times. The platform reflects the "political clout of social conservatives and set[s] up a stark contrast with the Democrats for the fall campaign," the Times reports.
Republicans "used the platform to promote the [ideas of an] ownership society and 'reformed' government," the Times reports. Party platforms, while not binding, are "generally considered a snapshot of the party's ideological and political imperatives in an election year," according to the Times. The Republican platform highlights the "critical role that social conservatives are playing in the Republican Party as it heads into an extremely competitive race in which each party must turn out its core supporters" (Toner/Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 8/31).