MEDICARE: ‘Whose Side Are You On?’ Gore Asks Bush
Brandishing a host of charts and graphs, Vice President Al Gore yesterday drew a "strong line" between his plan for Medicare reform and that of his rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush (Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 7/7). Speaking in Chicago, Gore painted Bush as the "candidate of powerful industries" and demanded that the Texas governor reveal his positions on raising Medicare's eligibility age, increasing premiums and enrolling more beneficiaries in HMOs. "If Medicare is important to you, these questions are something you should know the answer to," Gore told a group of senior citizens. Touting his plan to bolster Medicare spending by $339 billion over the next 10 years and to add a prescription drug benefit, Gore said that Bush has allocated "not one dime in his proposal for extending, strengthening, adding to Medicare" (Mitchell, New York Times, 7/7). Instead, Gore said Bush wants to spend the surplus on defense, Social Security privatization and tax cuts. Pointing to a graphic of Bush's proposed expenditures, he said, "If you add up what he has already proposed, you can see that it swamps the amount of surplus that is there." Invoking a popular Depression-era union song, Gore asked, "Whose side are you on? ... I'm on your side. I want to fight for the people. The other side fights for the powerful, and that is why the big pharmaceutical companies are supporting Gov. Bush. ... That's why the HMOs and insurance companies are supporting" him (Los Angeles Times, 7/7). He added, "We know what the other side thinks of Medicare. They were so determined to slash it that they shut down the government. But the American people shut them down -- and we're never going to let them do that again" (AP/Washington Times, 7/7). Although Bush has offered "broad principles" for overhauling Medicare, he has provided "little detail," the New York Times reports. But Bush aides note that the governor plans to earmark $5 trillion over five years to shore up Social Security and Medicare, including adding a drug benefit. Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett said, "Al Gore's charts and graphs can't hide the fact that the Clinton-Gore administration opposed bipartisan Medicare reform and they submitted a budget to cut Medicare spending by $70 billion" (7/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.