President Bush Announces Second-Term Agenda Would Include Health Care Reform Proposals
President Bush on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., said that his second-term agenda would include health care reform, the Los Angeles Times reports. At a $23 million fundraiser for congressional campaigns, Bush told the audience of 7,000 Republican donors that he would "help more citizens to own their health plan" as part of a proposal to "usher in a new era of ownership in America with an agenda to help all our citizens save and build and invest so every person owns a part of the American dream."
According to Bush, the proposal would provide U.S. residents with more control over their health insurance and reduce their health care costs (Wallsten, Los Angeles Times, 7/22). Bush said that "when men and women have ... the security of health care, they will achieve great things for themselves and for our nation" (Stevenson, New York Times, 7/22). Bush added, "We must move forward to expand access to care and to keep important health decisions in the hands of patients and doctors, not in government bureaucrats" (Lindlaw, Los Angeles Daily News, 7/21).
Although Bush provided few details, "it was the president's strongest suggestion yet that he would forge ahead with a plan to create private retirement savings and health accounts," according to the Los Angeles Times. Democrats have said that such accounts would "actually place benefits further out of reach for middle- and low-income people," the Los Angeles Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 7/22). Bush also called for increased use of information technology to help reduce health care costs and called for a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, which he said have increased health care costs and have led to job losses.
Bush "offered no details and only the barest outlines of new initiatives" -- in part to delay their release until the Republican National Convention and because of "what some Republicans said was the budgetary constraint imposed by the large deficit as well as difficulty within the White House in reaching consensus on how ambitious to be in proposing second-term initiatives," according to the New York Times (New York Times, 7/22).
Bush may seek to make health care reform -- an issue "likely to be an important theme" for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) -- a "critical issue" in his campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that Republicans are "losing ground fast on key domestic issues," such as health care reform, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Phil Singer, a Kerry campaign spokesperson, said, "For a speech that was supposed to start laying out an agenda, it's difficult to spot what was new about it besides the hype. The fact is that George Bush has been in office for four years and has yet to focus on the needs of American families" (Los Angeles Times, 7/22).
WBUR's "The Connection" on Wednesday included a discussion on the latest recommendations for health care reform and whether either Republicans or Democrats are "genuinely focused" on the issue. Guests on the program included Michael Sparer, professor of health policy at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and Tom Volk, a business owner (Gordon, "The Connection," WBUR, 7/21). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.