GEORGE W. BUSH: Unveils New Health Initiatives
One day after unveiling a $41.6 billion tax credit, incentive and voucher plan to help lower-income Americans purchase health coverage, probable GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush proposed to spend an additional $4.3 billion over five years to expand health care services in inner cities and rural communities, the New York Times reports. Bush's proposals include $3.6 billion to create 1,200 new community and migrant health centers for inner city and rural residents without insurance; a $500 million fund to dole out grants for programs addressing particular health problems; and changes in the federal scholarship program that places doctors in areas with shortages (Mitchell, 4/13). Bush said, "Even as we work to reduce the number of uninsured, we will continue addressing the real needs in a way that has proven effective" (Miller/Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, 4/13). Bush's latest proposals, announced at the Grace Hill Neighborhood Health Center in Missouri, "are part of [his] sustained drive ... to try to eat into the traditional Democratic advantage on issues like education and health care, which have moved to the forefront of public concern in a time of peace and economic prosperity."
On the Attack
Vice President Al Gore wasted no time in attacking Bush, arguing that the "political malpractice of the Bush administration" is responsible for the thousands of Texans who lack insurance (New York Times, 4/13). Texas children account for nearly 1.4 million of the 11 million uninsured children nationwide. Further, about 25% of Texans lack health coverage (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/13). Gore continued to berate Bush for "posturing on issues of public concern." He said that Bush "wants us to believe he's committed to issues like education, health care and the environment. We need the nation's reporters and editors to challenge every assumption and question every proposal." Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer rebutted, "The worse Al Gore does in the polls, the more he attacks and misrepresents Governor Bush's record. Pretty soon Al Gore will say he invented health care" (New York Times, 4/13).
The Big Debate
For more back and forth on who has the better health plan, check out USA Today's opinion page debate. USA Today holds that former Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley's plan offered more choice and was more affordable than either Bush or Gore's plans. Bush explains why his plan will help low-income Americans (USA Today, 4/13).