Bush to Address Rx Benefit, Uninsured in State of the Union Address
President Bush will call for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries and tax credits to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance during his State of the Union address Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. As part of his domestic agenda, Bush will propose $190 billion to "revive" the Medicare reform proposal that he unveiled last summer. The plan included a prescription drug benefit, increased participation from private health plans, "looser" regulation of the health care industry and "special help" for patients with large medical bills. Although both parties consider Medicare reform a "leading priority," lawmakers have disagreed on the cost and structure of a prescription drug benefit. Addressing the problem of the uninsured, Bush will propose individual tax credits to help unemployed workers purchase health insurance -- a key component of an economic stimulus bill that the House passed last month. Bush may also "seek to expand health care tax credits to broader groups of people," a proposal "long advocated" by many Republicans but opposed by many Democrats. The Post reports that Bush will, "once again says he favors" patients' rights legislation -- an issue that "bogged down" last year amid "partisan disputes" over differences in bills passed in the House and Senate. Bush aides recently have met "about half a dozen times" with aides to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), co-sponsor of the Senate bill, for "tentative talks" on a compromise. According to a Democratic source, "it remains "uncertain" whether Bush and Kennedy can resolve key differences in their versions of the legislation. Bush will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST (Allen/Goldstein, Washington Post, 1/28).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.