CAMPAIGN 2000: Gore to Address Uninsured in Speech Today
Vice President Gore is expected to unveil a proposal today in Los Angeles that promises to cover the nation's approximately 11 million uninsured children by 2005 and "put us on the road to" affordable coverage for all uninsured Americans. Gore's speech, the day before former senator Bill Bradley is expected to announce his presidential candidacy in Missouri, will also highlight the need to improve coverage for those who have it. He emphasized that he would not repeat the strategy of the Clinton administration in 1994, saying, "Instead of turning the current system, which now insures 85% of Americans, on its head in order to extend coverage to the rest, the plan I will outline on Tuesday will strengthen existing coverage and focus like a laser on the remaining 15%" (Page, USA Today, 9/7). "We have all learned that we cannot overhaul the system in one fell swoop," say Gore's prepared remarks. In an apparent slap at Bradley, who has already hinted at a universal coverage plan of his own, he added, "Experience has taught us that there is a way to keep what is right, while fixing what is wrong with American health care. ... Others will argue against reforming our health care system carefully, realistically, and step-by-step. Some of them will tell you that the only acceptable answer is a one-size-fits-all solution."
Gore would expand CHIP to allow states to cover children in families earning up to 250% of the poverty level and allow other families that do not qualify to buy into the program. He would allow those aged 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare and allow people with disabilities keep Medicare or Medicaid coverage when moving into the work force. He would provide tax credits for businesses that banded together to purchase coverage and push for "real, enforceable" patients' rights legislation, including mental health coverage (Lindlaw, AP/Newsday, 9/7).
Back to Bradley
The Washington Post reports that health care will be one of several issues Bradley uses to try to outflank Gore on the left, "because that is where frustration in the party is greatest over the Clinton-Gore record." One Gore adviser said, "I understand why he's doing it. That's where the oxygen is" (Balz, 9/5).
Middle of Campaign Grocery List
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that while a majority of respondents consider patients' rights and Medicare to be "very important" issues going into the 2000 election, they rank down on the list of issues, falling behind education, crime and Social Security. Sixty-five percent of those polled said patients' rights would be a "very important" issue. That figure is down from a March 14 poll in which 71% said the same. Women still consider the issue to be more pressing than do men: 72% of women said it was "very important," compared to 57% of men. Sixty-four percent of respondents said Medicare reform would be a "very important" issue. Predictably, among older Americans, that percentage jumped to 83% (release, 9/5).