STATE OF THE UNION: President to Focus on Health Care
Facing the last year of his administration, President Clinton will deliver his final State of the Union address tonight and offer his vision for the future, including new health care proposals, USA Today reports. Although previous attempts to reform health care failed, the president again will call on Congress to pass a "Patients' Bill of Rights." In addition, he is expected to propose a $110 billion, 10-year initiative to provide health insurance for millions of the uninsured. Other proposals he is expected to address tonight include a $3,000 annual tax credit for families providing long term care and a plan to reduce the age for Medicare eligibility to 55 (McQuillan, 1/27). He also will address racial disparities in health care, and announce plans to include a $20 million budget request to establish a new minority health center at the NIH (Carr, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/27). In an interview with PBS' Jim Lehrer yesterday, the president outlined the health initiatives he would like to establish in his final year. He said, "I want to try to increase the number of people with health insurance dramatically by letting the parents of children in CHIP buy into it; by letting people between the ages of 55 and 65 buy into Medicare. And I want to have another big investment in biomedical research" (PBS, "Newshour with Jim Lehrer," 1/26).
Following the State of the Union address, the GOP response will be offered up by Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R- Maine). Frist, a surgeon, is expected to focus on heath care, and to downplay the president's proposals while touting GOP efforts to reform the nation's health care (Sher, Chattanooga Times & Free Press, 1/27).