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More headlines: George W. Bush on Health Care

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)


Gore a hop, skip, & jump away from Hillary-care

[Bush said of Gore], “he says he’s for a step-by-step plan for universal coverage. No, folks. He’s for a hop, skip and a jump to national health care. He thought Hillary-care made a lot of sense,” Bush added, seeking to tie Gore’s current plans to the unpopular 1993 effort to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system that was spearheaded by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Source: AP Story, NY Times Nov 2, 2000

Claims that he supported patient rights in Texas is false

To the very first debate question, Gore said Bush does not support a strong patient’s bill of rights. Bush said he pushed through just such a law in Texas. Bush was wrong. He opposed the legislation.

In 1995 Bush vetoed a patient’s bill of rights, one that contained many of the provisions that he praised last night: report cards on health maintenance organizations, liberal emergency room access, and the elimination of a gag clause forbidding doctors from telling patients about more costly treatment options than HMO coverage.

At the time, Bush said these provisions would be too costly to business. Bush did sign some of the provisions into law two years later. But he opposed the right to sue HMOs in court, a right last night he termed “interesting.” But a bipartisan, veto-proof majority in the Texas Legislature supported the right to sue. Bush let the provision go into law without his signature.

Source: Boston Globe analysis of St. Louis debate Oct 18, 2000

Blueprint: Senior choice; Rx benefit; tax breaks

Source: Blueprint for the Middle Class Sep 17, 2000

Affordable long-term care instead of financial ruin

Bush wants to provide an income tax deduction to anyone buying long-term care insurance. The deduction would apply to everyone except those on employer-subsidized long-term care plans. By some estimates, half of older women and a third of older men are likely to need nursing home care. An increasing number of people will be affected as the baby boom generation ages. “My goal is to make long-term care available and affordable instead of a path to financial ruin,” Bush said.
Source: Boston Globe, p. A29, part of “Renewing America’s Purpose” May 11, 2000

$3.6B for 1200 new community health centers

Calling them “America’s health care safety net,” Bush today proposed a $3.6 billion plan to increase the number of community health centers from “coast to coast.” Bush said. “Under this plan, we will provide $3.6 billion in federal money over a five-year period to create 1200 new centers from coast to coast. I am also proposing a Healthy Communities Innovation Fund-an extra source of federal support for health care in underserved communities. This initiative will support pilot programs and demonstration projects for targeted purposes, such as AIDS education or mental health awareness.“ Community health centers are medical clinics that offer one-stop services for prevention care, free vaccines, health alerts, disease screening, and counseling. The Bush plan will increase the number of community health centers from 3000 to 4200.” The most difficult places to build a quality health facility are the very areas where the need is greatest-and where patients have the least ability to pay,“ Bush said.
Source: Press Release Apr 12, 2000

Against mandates not related to patient care

Bush vetoed the Texas Patient Protection Act despite protests because the “bill had a host of mandates and regulations not directly related to patient care.”
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.189-195 Dec 9, 1999

Endorses tax-subsidized medical savings accounts

Bush endorsed medical savings accounts - tax-favored accounts that individuals can use to buy catastrophic health insurance.
Source: L.A. Times May 1, 1999

Supports subsidized Medicare menu with means testing

On Medicare, Bush said he was attracted to the plan drafted by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). Bush said. “[I find attractive] the idea of having a basket of opportunity with premiums subsidized at the federal level, based on means testing.” Bush also said, “The Breaux plan didn’t cut benefits.” But then he acknowledged that the plan did recommend raising the age of eligibility for Medicare.
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

More managed care; more tax incentives; no state guarantees

Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1998

$3.5B of Bush’s $4.7B on uninsured is from private sources

On three occasions in their debate last week, Bush said, “We spent $4.7 billion a year in the state of Texas for uninsured people.” However, a recent report by the state comptroller says $3.5 billion, or three- fourths of that amount, resulted from charity care provided by doctors and hospitals and care financed by local governments or charitable institutions.

The letter, written to Gore and signed by senior members of the Texas House of Representatives, says, “Of the $4.7 billion referenced by the governor, $3.5 billion consists of charitable care provided by hospitals in their emergency rooms, private physicians, charities, local governments and free clinics, none of which is paid for by the state.“

A Bush spokesman said Bush did not mean to imply that all of the $4.7 billion was state money: ”The governor was merely explaining that people in Texas do have access to health care. We have a double safety net to make sure that people who don’t have insurance receive the care they need.“

Source: Analysis of Wake Forest debate, Robert Pear, NY Times Oct 16, 2000

Texas spent $4.7B on uninsured & covered 110,000 kids

GORE [to Bush]: Texas ranks 49th out of the states in health care.

BUSH: We spent $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured in Texas. The percentage of uninsured in Texas has gone down, while the percentage of uninsured in America has gone up. Our CHIPS program got a late start because our government meets only four months out of every two years. It may come as a shock for somebody who’s been in Washington for so long, but limited government can work. In ‘99, we signed up over 110,000 children to the CHIPS program. For comparable states our size, we’re signing them up fast as any other state.

GORE: I’m no expert on Texas procedures, but friends there tell me that the governor opposed a measure put forward by Democrats in the legislature to expand the number of children that would be covered. And instead directed the money toward a tax cut, a significant part of which went to wealthy interests. He declared the need for a new tax cut for the oil companies in Texas an emergency need.

Source: (X-ref Gore) Presidential Debate at Wake Forest Oct 11, 2000

$4.7B for uninsured children in Texas; 1.4M still uninsured

GORE [to Bush]: There are 1.4 million children in Texas who do not have health insurance.

BUSH: If he’s trying to allege that I’m a hard-hearted person and I don’t care about children, he’s absolutely wrong. We spent $4.7 billion a year in the State of Texas for uninsured people and they get health care. The facts are that we’re reducing the number of uninsured as a percentage of our population. And as a percentage of the population that’s increasing nationally.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Gore’s plan is “Mediscare”; hasn’t helped for 8 years

GORE (to Bush): 95% of all seniors would get no help whatsoever, under my opponent’s plan, for the first 4 or 5 years. Why is it that the wealthiest 1% get their tax cuts the first year, but 95% of seniors have to wait 4 to 5 years before they get a single penny?

BUSH: I guess my answer to that is, the man’s running on Mediscare, trying to frighten people in the voting booth. That’s just not the way I think, and I that’s just not my intentions. That’s not my plan.

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Medicare & drug benefit plan reveal suspicion of government

Bush’s proposal to redesign Medicare and offer drug benefits to the elderly puts him squarely in line with his party’s drive to reshape the program by reducing the role of government, increasing the role of insurance companies and giving elderly people more choices. Bush sees Medicare as a prime example of government regulation run wild. Bush would subsidize a variety of health plans offering different drug benefits and charging different premiums and co-payments. Bush has set the stage for a reprise of the health care battles of the last decade, revolving around a fundamental question: which do voters fear more, the government or the insurance industry?
Source: Robert Pear, Robin Toner in NY Times Sep 6, 2000

Modernize Medicare and give prescription help to seniors

Medicare is an enduring commitment of our country, but it must be modernized for our times. We will work to modernize Medicare, but we will not wait to help seniors without prescription drugs. This plan will help seniors much sooner than anything proposed by my opponent. Even if the Gore plan passed, no one would get drug benefits for eight years.
Source: CNN.com Sep 5, 2000

Reinvent Medicare’s bureaucracy

Bush’s proposed initiatives are intended to reinvent Medicare in a way that would incrementally break down the federal bureaucracy which now administers the multibillion-dollar insurance program. Bush’s two-part, 10-year plan for seniors aims to provide immediate drug coverage to low-income earners, shore up the solvency of the Medicare program over the coming decade and offer seniors a menu of health-care plans from which to choose.
Source: CNN.com Sep 5, 2000

Restore $21B in Medicare reimbursements

“I believe more should be done to protect today’s Medicare beneficiaries and to support the Medicare system,” said Bush. Bush will support bipartisan efforts to restore $21 Billion of Medicare reimbursements over the next five years. Legislation to povide these give-backs is under consideration in Congress. If these efforts are not successful, Bush would work with Congress to restore the funding in the Medicare program to alleviate the problems caused by the 1997 BBA. [$40.3 billion over 10 years]
Source: Press Release, “Restore $21 Billion” Sep 5, 2000

Tax-deductible long-term care insurance for retirement

The danger in the health care debate is that America falls prey to the idea that the federal government should make all decisions for consumers and the federal government should make all decisions for the providers, that the federal government should ration care.

In terms of long-term care for the baby boomers, we ought to encourage the purchase of long-term care insurance and allow deductibility of that insurance so that the new younger generations are able to plan more aptly for when they retire.

Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

Keep Medicare in government, but provide flexibility

Q: What about the elimination and the phasing out of Medicare and Medicaid? A: No, I think it is a bad idea. Medicare is the responsibility of the Federal Government; it’s a commitment we’ve got to keep. The problem with Medicare is it’s run by a 135,000 page document where the government decides everything. They decide how the patient chooses things and how the doctors perform. I think we need to give patients more choice and doctors more flexibility. I think [phasing it out is] a bad idea.
Source: Des Moines Iowa GOP Debate Dec 13, 1999

Strengthen Medicare through choice and other options

Medicare should be strengthened by providing more choice and more private sector alternatives for the elderly, including plans that offer coverage for prescription drugs. I support medical savings accounts and patient protections in federal health care plans similar to the ones I signed in Texas. I would not, however, support allowing the federal government to supersede the health reforms already enacted by states such as mine.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.238 Dec 9, 1999

Patient Bill of Rights, but not Dingell-Norwell

BUSH [to Gore]: It’s time for our nation to come together & do what’s right for the people. I support a national patients’ bill of rights.

Q: Do you two agree on that?

GORE: Absolutely not. The Dingell-Norwood bill is the bipartisan bill that is now pending in the Congress. The HMOs & the insurance companies support the other bill that’s pending, the one that Republican majority has put forward. [The Dingell-Norwood bill] is being blocked by the Republican leadership in the Congress. I specifically would like to know whether Gov. Bush will support the Dingell-Norwood bill, which is the main one pending.

BUSH: I talked about the principles and the issues that I think are important in a patients’ bill of rights. Now, there’s this kind of Washington, D.C., focus, well, it’s in this committee or it’s got this sponsor. If I’m the president, we’re going to have emergency room care [and the rest of] what I’ve done in Texas. And that’s the kind of leadership style I’ll bring to Washington.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Use Texas model for Bill of Rights: access; choice; appeals

Source: Associated Press Aug 31, 2000

Use Texas patient protections as model for federal programs

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Bush signed Texas’ version of Patient Bill of Rights

Thanks to the laws I signed, in Texas. HMOs are forbidden to enact “gag clauses” that discourage doctors from discussing treatment options, insurance must pay for hospital emergency care, women can go directly to their gynecologist. Patients with lengthy, ongoing illnesses cannot be required to change doctors, and if cancer patients need treatment that is not provided within their. network, their insurance must refer them to specialty hospitals and pay for that care.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.195 Dec 9, 1999

Choose doctor for pay outside of HMOs

Bush allowed Texas patients the right to choose their own doctor. He gave employees the right to choose, even outside their plan, if they are willing to pay additional costs of that coverage.
Source: GeorgeWBush.com/News/ “1999 Texas Legislative Record” Jun 25, 1999

Seniors deserve prescription drug benefit and choice

Bush said, “Medicare does not offer a prescription drug benefit. This must change.” Bush’s plan for long-term Medicare viability also includes a guarantee of access to Medicare for all senior citizens; providing a choice or health plans to every insurance beneficiary; a refusal to increase the taxes for Medicare , coverage of at least some health expenses for low-income seniors, and streamlined access to the latest medical technologies for Medicare beneficiaries.
Source: CNN.com report from Rancho Cucamonga, CA May 15, 2000

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Other candidates on Health Care: George W. Bush on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014