BUSH/GORE: Do Candidates Offer Lackluster Health Plans?
While Vice President Al Gore will likely paint himself as a champion of health care reform in his address at the Democratic National Convention tonight, health care in the United States has gone from bad to worse during the Clinton-Gore years, a USA Today editorial argues. Despite eight years of economic growth, more then 44 million Americans remain uninsured, up almost 6 million since 1992, the editors note. They also contend that neither Gore nor Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) has presented a "broad vision" for solving health care problems, such as rising costs, restrictive HMOs or lack of choice among health plans. Although the editors call the candidates' reluctance "understandable," citing the "hugely expensive" cost of coverage for the uninsured and the potential ire from a host of interest groups, the contend that both Gore's and Bush's "modest" plans leave "plenty to be desired," although they concede the vice president's plan is "more substantive." According to the editors, "[b]older thinking from both sides is needed" to tackle the health care quagmire. They urge the candidates to look to former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, who presented a plan during his primary run against Gore that "grafted liberal and conservative ideas to take big strides toward both universal coverage and expanded consumer choice" (8/17).
Health Care Champion?
In a Gore opinion piece appearing in USA Today the vice president counters that, if elected president, he plans to "lead the fight for affordable health care -- so patients and ordinary people are not left powerless and broke." To achieve this goal, he proposes universal coverage for all children by 2004, a strengthened Medicare program and a prescription drug benefit for all seniors under Medicare. He also plans to "take the medical decisions away from HMOs" and bolster federal research grants for cancer and AIDS treatment research. "If I'm your president, I will see to it that we meet this challenge and make bold new strides for human health," Gore concludes (8/17).
Expanding the Lone Star
In another USA Today opinion piece, Bush also pledges to improve the nation's health care system, touting his past record as governor of Texas. "As president, I will work toward the same health care goals as I have as governor: improving quality, access and affordability," Bush writes, citing his leadership in passing some of the "nation's toughest" patient protection laws, urging HMOs to provide emergency care service and allowing patients to appeal HMO denial through a "strong" independent review process. He adds that he signed legislation that provided health insurance for 423,000 children and created a $25 million program to provide health insurance for immigrant children. If elected president, Bush vows to strengthen Medicare, provide a prescription drug benefit and back a patient's bill of rights. "Improving quality, access and affordability -- that is my record as governor. That will be my agenda as president," he concludes (8/17).