CLINTON: Stumps for Health Care Proposals in NH
President Clinton hammered away at his now-familiar themes of preserving Medicare and Social Security at a stop in Manchester, NH, yesterday, and showcased his considerable political and empathetic gifts in discussing of a grab bag of health care proposals. The AP/Manchester Union Leader -- which published a front-page editorial yesterday urging Clinton, "Don't come back, kid" -- reports that the president spoke to a "hand-picked" crowd, discussing with local panel members disabled people losing their Medicaid benefits when they return to work, long term care tax credits and small business health insurance pools (Baggetta/Miller, 2/19). The New York Times reports that Clinton also covered extending health insurance to more children, before "embracing nearly all of the 250 people" attending the discussion (Broder, 2/19).
Quit Your Grumbling
Clinton dismissed GOP criticisms of the Democratic patients' bill of rights, saying, "The opposition says it will raise the cost of health care. It will -- but not much, maybe eight or 10 bucks a year or something. It would be worth it to you -- one trip to the emergency room." The Washington Times reports that Clinton told a joke in which an HMO executive is admitted to heaven with "no questions asked," but "can only stay three days" (Sammon, 2/19). Alluding again and again to his surprise strong showing in the 1992 New Hampshire primary, Clinton said, "I would very much like to see the spirit in the country and in Washington, DC, that I felt here in New Hampshire so many years ago ... to take these health care issues and sort of put them beyond partisan politics" (Nichols, USA Today, 2/19).
Republican National Committee Chair Jim Nicholson blasted a provision in the Clinton budget proposal that would reduce outpatient Medicare reimbursements for cancer drugs. Charging the reduction would "force patients into more expensive and inconvenient inpatient settings," he said, "While Bill Clinton goes to New Hampshire for 'Gloatfest '99,' his budget contains a hidden cutback that will be devastating to cancer patients on Medicare." Nicholson called the budget cut "shortsighted, cruel and counterproductive," saying, "What's buried in the fine print of the Clinton-Gore budget is the fact that their war on cancer is really a war on cancer patients" (RNC release, 2/18).