President Bush Blocks Clinton Regulations
After being sworn in as the 43rd president, George W. Bush revisited "themes and issues that he invoked during his campaign" -- such as reforming Medicare and cutting taxes -- in his 14-minute inaugural address, the Washington Post reports. During the traditional lunch after the inaugural, Bush said, "I'm here to tell the country that things will get gone, that we're going to rise above expectations, that both Republicans and Democrats will come together to do what's right for America" (Allen/Walsh, Washington Post, 1/21). Shortly after being sworn in, Bush blocked more than 800 pages of new guidelines for managed care programs under Medicare that former President Clinton recently had issued (Raum, AP/Houston Chronicle, 1/21). White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said that the action was necessary "to ensure that the president's appointees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations." But Timothy Westmoreland, director of the HHS Center for Medicaid and State Operations, said, "The Bush administration is being extremely short-sighted. Some of our rules would save money. Others would provide basic protections for HMO patients and for children subjected to abuses in psychiatric hospitals" (Stevenson, New York Times, 1/21). To advance his "conservative policies," Bush plans to "cour[t] rank-and-file Democrats to support" his positions, the Washington Post reports. Bush "intends to rely on a few nondogmatic conservative Republican allies to advance his legislative goals and to build coalitions with centrist and conservative Democrats -- depending upon the issue," the Post reports. But the Post adds that unless Bush makes some concessions to Democratic leaders, his plans for a tax cut and a Medicare prescription benefit could run "into trouble" (Eilperin, Washington Post, 1/22).
The pharmaceutical industry "appears comfortably situated" under the newly inaugurated president, Scripps Howard News Service/Nando Times reports. Pharmaceutical companies donated $6.3 million to Bush and other Republicans during this year's campaigns, as well as a combined $1.7 million to Bush's inaugural. Scripps Howard/Nando Times reports that the pharmaceutical industry's interests appear to be aptly represented in the Bush team, with former Eli Lilly & Co. senior executive Mitch Daniels taking the helm as budget director. While Daniels "may not have a direct bearing on how the Bush administration handles Medicare, he will have a big say on how much money is funneled into the program," Scripps Howard/Nando Times reports. Furthermore, two representatives of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and Merck Chair Ray Gilmartin are serving on Bush's transition advisory team on HHS, which was formed to make recommendations on issues such as a Medicare drug benefit. Scripps Howard/Nando Times predicts that a "first step" for the benefit will likely be "a block grant program," under which states would receive money to bolster existing Medicare programs with drug benefits or to create new drug benefit plans -- both options that are "less threatening to the industry" (Straub, Scripps Howard/Nando Times, 1/21).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.