GORE/LIEBERMAN: Address Drug Costs With Midwest Seniors
Vice President Al Gore and running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) made separate appearances in the Midwest yesterday, touting Gore's Medicare prescription drug plan and criticizing rival Texas Gov. George W. Bush's proposal, the Los Angeles Times reports. In Des Moines, Iowa, Gore said that Bush's plan would give seniors "a little something" to seek coverage through private insurers, leaving them "at the mercy of the HMOs and insurance companies" (Gerstenzang/Calvo, Los Angeles Times, 9/28). Speaking at an Altoona, Iowa community center, Gore described a GOP television ad he saw that morning, which accused Gore of "wanting, through his proposal to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, to turn the program into a 'government-run HMO." Gore said in response to the ad, "There's no big government HMO. [Under Medicare] you get to choose your doctor. You get to choose your pharmacy." Gore added that Republicans "never really have liked Medicare and putting it down that way is in keeping with the opposition on the other side to the creation of Medicare in the first place -- and their support of Newt Gingrich's plan to let it wither on the vine in 1995. This proposal that [George W. Bush] put out this year would have essentially the same effect." Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett responded, "Governor Bush has said that Medicare is one of the most successful programs for our seniors and his reforms will make sure that it is successful for the next generation" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/28). Gore continued to stomp on Bush's plan in Altoona, saying that his prescription assistance "would be directed at the poorest in the nation and would largely leave out the needed help for the middle-class elderly." Gore said, "My plan is not for the hardest-pressed seniors. It is for all seniors," referring to a condition in Bush's plan that covers "Medicare premiums and all other health-care related costs for individuals with incomes of less than 135% of the poverty line, or about $11,300 for an individual." Bartlett responded that Bush would be able to implement his plan "within a year of taking office, while Gore's assistance would be phased in over eight years." To view video clips from Gore's Altoona, Iowa visit, go to http://www.a lgore.com/video/0927_altoona.html.
Lieberman in Milwaukee
Lieberman also addressed voters yesterday while speaking at Milwaukee's Wilson Park Senior Center, where he lamented that the lack of a prescription drug benefit in Medicare is "one of the great areas of unmet humane needs in our country" (Los Angeles Times, 9/28). Liebermann listened to seniors describe their forays to Canada to obtain drugs at reduced prices. "It's an embarrassment," Lieberman said in response, "and it makes me angry." He assured seniors, "We're going to make [affordable prescription drugs] happen, if we get the chance, I promise you" (Borsuk, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/27).