George W. Bush on Health Care

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

Absolutely opposed to a national health care plan

Q: Would you be open to the ideal of a national health care plan?

BUSH: I’m absolutely opposed to a national health care plan. I don’t want the federal government making decisions for consumers or for providers. I remember what the administration tried to do in 1993. They tried to have a national health care plan, and fortunately it failed. I trust people; I don’t trust the federal government. I don’t want the federal government making decisions on behalf of everybody.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Give states money to help poor seniors buy medicine

Q: What about expensive prescription drugs?

BUSH: Step one is to reform the Medicare system. I want to call upon Republicans and Democrats to take care of a senior prescription drug program. I think it’s important to have what’s called Immediate Helping Hand, which is direct money to states so seniors don’t have to chose between food and medicine.

GORE: I have never been afraid to take on the big drug companies. They are now spending more money on advertising than they are on research. They’re trying to artificially extend the monopoly so they can keep charging high prices. I want to streamline the approval of generic drugs so that we bring the price down. I proposed a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. You pick your own doctor and the doctor chooses the prescription and nobody can overrule your doctor. You go to your own pharmacy and Medicare pays half. If you’re poor, they pay all of it. If you have extraordinarily high costs, then they pay all over $4,000 out of pocket.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Medical Savings Accounts part of affordable access & choice

Q: Should the government let everyone set aside money in a tax-free medical savings account to help pay for their health care?

A: I believe every American should have access to quality, affordable health care by giving consumers better information about health care plans, providing more choices such as medical savings accounts and changing tax laws to help more people, such as the uninsured and the self-employed, afford health insurance.“

Source: Associated Press Oct 11, 2000

Claims of immediate help are only true for poorer families

GORE: A married man, 70 years old, with income of $25,000 a year. under Bush’s plan, would not get one penny for four to five years.

BUSH: I cannot let this go by. Under my plan, the man gets immediate help with prescription drugs.“

ANALYSIS: This is NOT TRUE. They would not get immediate help because their income exceeds 175% of the federal poverty level. They would get help only after their bills exceeded $6,000. But a poorer family would get immediate help.

Source: Presidential Debate, Boston Globe, “Number Crunch”, p. A15 Oct 11, 2000

Invest $27B in NIH to cure Alzheimer’s & other diseases

Bush proposed spending an additional $67 billion over the decade to search for cures for age-old afflictions, including Alzheimer’s disease. “As president, I will fund and lead a medical moonshot to reach far beyond what seems possible today.’’ Specifically, Bush would complete a five-year plan already in progress in Congress to double NIH funding by 2003, to about $27 billion.
Source: AP Story, NY Times Sep 22, 2000

Blueprint: Senior choice; Rx benefit; tax breaks

Source: Blueprint for the Middle Class Sep 17, 2000

Government HMOs not the answer for Social Security

Bush said the vice president’s prescription drug plan would force seniors into “government HMOs,” give them one chance to enter the plan at age 64 and cost certain seniors more money than they currently pay. “That’s not fair and that’s not right.”
Source: AP story, NY Times Sep 11, 2000

More funding for disability assistance

    Our goal now is [to remove] the last barriers to full, independent, productive lives for every person, with or without disability. I support the Americans with Disabilities Act, [which bans] discrimination against a person with a disability. But the banning of discrimination is just the beginning of full participation. Barriers remain. My administration will act in three specific areas:
  1. We will promote independent living [via] tripling the current funding, to $33 million annually, for research on assistive technology like text telephones for the deaf and computer monitors with braille display for the blind.
  2. We will help citizens with disabilities to claim their rightful place in the workforce [via] $20 million to create an Access to Telecommuting Fund.
  3. We will help Americans with disabilities to gain fuller access to community life [via] $10 million each year to aid religious and civic groups in making their facilities more accessible.
Source: “New Freedom Initiative” Speech, part of “Renewing America” Jun 15, 2000

Family Health Credit: pay for 90% of basic low-income policy

[My proposed] “Family Health Credit” would make a basic health plan more affordable. It would pay for 90%of the cost of an insurance policy, up to $2,000 a year, for every family making less than $30,000. Every family that is not already covered by government programs or an employer plan would be eligible. This Family Health Credit would help to buy a basic policy that covers visits to a doctor, discounted prescriptions, and hospitalization.
Source: USA Today editorial by Bush, page 16A Apr 13, 2000

$3.6B for 1,200 new community health centers

I support increasing the number of community health centers across America. Community health centers are community-owned, locally administered medical clinics where people can receive preventive care, free vaccine clinics, health alerts, disease screening, and counseling. They have become America’s health care safety net. Under my plan, we would provide $3.6 billion in federal money over a five-year period to create 1,200 new centers from coast to coast.
Source: USA Today editorial by Bush, page 16A Apr 13, 2000

Expand and Reform Medical Savings Accounts:

Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

Opposes doctor assisted suicide

Opposes doctor assisted suicide, believes the role of a doctor is to relieve pain and suffering, not to end life
Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Restrict teenage smoking by tough state & federal laws

Bush, in a statement issued by his campaign headquarters, called on Congress and state legislatures to pass laws to restrict access to tobacco by minors. Texas, he said, had already passed some of the toughest such laws in the nation.
Bush did not address the question that faced the Supreme Court today, whether the FDA should be empowered to regulate tobacco as a harmful and addictive drug. A spokeswoman said the governor had never answered that question and was not prepared to do so today.
The Bush statement said the governor “believes Congress should pass tough laws to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids similar to strict anti-teen smoking laws he advocated and signed in Texas.”
Texas imposes fines on retailers who sell cigarettes to minors, prohibits cigarette vending machines in areas accessible to children and restricts tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and churches.
Source: Mar 22, 2000

Health insurance for kids from tobacco settlement

Bush provided health insurance for kids. He used Texas’ tobacco settlement fund to provide health insurance to children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid and whose family income is 200% or less of poverty level.
Source: “1999 Texas Legislative Record” Jun 25, 1999

George W. Bush on Insurance coverage

Ask “are we getting health care?” not “are we uninsured?”

There is an issue with the uninsured. There sure is. And we’ve got uninsured people in my state. But we’re providing health care for our people. One thing about insurance, that’s a Washington term. The question is, are people getting health care? And we’ve got a strong safety net. And there needs to be a safety net in America. There needs to be more community health clinics where the poor can go get health care. We need a program for the uninsured. They’ve been talking about it in Washington, D.C. The number of uninsured have now gone up for the past seven years.

We need a $2,000 credit, a rebate for working people who don’t have insurance, that they can use in the marketplace and start purchasing insurance. We need to allow small businesses to write insurance policies across jurisdictional lines so small business can afford health care. Health care needs to be affordable and available.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Link small businesses together in large insurance pools

Q: What will you do for uninsured people under 65?

BUSH: For working folks that want health care, that can’t afford it, a couple of things: I’ve put money in my budget to expand community health centers all around the country. These are places where people can get primary care. Secondly, you get a $2,000 rebate from the government if you’re a family making $30,000 or less - it scales down as it gets higher - that you can use to purchase health care in the private market. Allow business associations to write association plans across jurisdictional lines so that small businesses have got the capacity of national pooling to drive the cost of insurance down.

GORE: I’d like to see some form of universal health care, but I’m not for a government-run system. We should start by greatly expanding the so-called child health insurance, or CHIP program, to give health insurance to every single child in this country.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 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

Cover 3 million uninsured at a 10-year cost of $135 billion

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” Sep 30, 2000

Small business health insurance via trade associations

We will increase the number of good, lower-cost plans available to workers. Small businesses should be allowed to buy insurance from a trade association, giving them the same purchasing power as a large company and bringing down the cost. This would allow a family restaurant, or a local hardware store, to insure their workers through the National Restaurant Association or the US Chamber of Commerce.
Source: USA Today editorial by Bush, page 16A Apr 13, 2000

More CHIPs; more multistate HMOs

George W. Bush’s plan:Al Gore’s plan:
Tax credit for 90% of health insurance costs for families making up to $60,000, individuals up to $45,000Tax credit worth 25% of premiums paid by people who buy insurance on their own
Flexibility for states to expand coverage under the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs)Coverage for more children under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPs)
Help for small businesses to buy cheaper insurance through multistate organizationsEnact a Patient’s Bill of Rights, with access to specialists, emergency rooms, and the right to sue HMOs
Source: USA Today editorials, page 16A Apr 13, 2000

New Prosperity Initiative: $2,000 health ins. tax credit

To Provide Access to Affordable Health Care [as part of the New Prosperity Initiative], Governor Bush will:
  • Provide a health credit of up to $2,000 per family ($1,000 per individual) to cover 90% of the cost of health insurance for low-income, working Americans who are not covered by a government program or their employer. As income increases, the share of the cost covered by the health credit will decrease.
  • Lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses and their employees by allowing these businesses to purchase more affordable policies through multi-state Association Health Plans.
  • Strengthen the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, giving states more flexibility to innovate and reach out to eligible people.
  • Empower people through Flexible Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts.
    Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

    George W. Bush on Medicare & Medicaid

    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 Rx plan: immediate help, then senior choice

    GORE (to Bush): Under the Medicare prescription drug proposal I’m making, here’s how it works: You go to your own doctor and your doctor chooses your prescription, and no HMO or insurance company can take those choices away from you. Then you go to your own pharmacy, you fill the prescription and Medicare pays half the cost. If you’re in a very poor family or you have very high costs, Medicare will pay all the costs, a $25 premium and much better benefits than you can possibly find in the private sector.

    BUSH: I’ve got a plan on Medicare that’s a two-stage plan that says we’re going to have immediate help for seniors in what I call “Immediate Helping Hand,” a $48 billion program. [Then,] seniors are going to have not only a Medicare plan where the poor seniors will have their prescriptions paid for, but there will be a variety of options. My plan not only trusts seniors with options, my plan sets aside $3.4 trillion for Medicare over the next 10 years.

    Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

    Cap senior prescription costs at $6,000 per year

    Healthcare comparedGore’s planBush’s plan
    Poor seniorsAll drug costs would be covered for those with incomes below $12,000 (single) or $14,000 (couple).All drug costs would be covered for those with incomes below $11,300 (single) or $15,200 (couple). Seniors with incomes below $14,600 (single) or $19,700 (couple) would get a partial subsidy of prescription drug premiums from the government. The lower one’s income, the higher the subsidy.
    All other seniorsHalf of drug costs, up to $5,000 a year, would be paid by the government. After that, seniors would have to pay out of pocket. Once the senior has paid a total of $4,000 for the year, the government would pick up all remaining drug costs. The government would pay for 25% of drug premiums. After a senior has paid $6,000 in a year, the government would pick up all remaining costs.
    Source: Boston Globe, p. A8 Sep 6, 2000

    $158B for Medicare prescriptions & subsidized premiums

    Medicare reform comparedGore’s planBush’s plan
    PremiumsStart at $25 per month, increasing to $44 by 2008.Will be determined by individual private health insurance companies, with higher premiums for more extensive coverage.
    Projected Cost$253 billion over 10 years$158 billion over 10 years, of which $48 billion would go for immediate prescription aid by 2004.
    Source: Boston Globe, p. A8 Sep 6, 2000

    Choice of Medicare, free equivalent, or adding own $

    [Seniors under Bush’s Medicare plan] will have a system with a proven track record. Nine million federal employees already have a similar plan. Seniors will get a book each year, listing all the health plans, and comparing their benefits. Seniors can stay in the current Medicare system, with no changes. They can choose another basic plan, for no cost at all. Or they can choose to pay a little more for a plan with additional benefits. And every low income senior will get a high-option plan for free.
    Source: Speech “Modernizing Medicare,” Allentown, PA Sep 5, 2000

    Second bill to Congress: $48B for immediate Rx help

    During the transition to better Medicare coverage, we will provide $12 billion a year in direct aid to low-income seniors. My plan sets aside $158 billion additional dollars for Medicare over the next ten years. Four years to provide “An Immediate Helping Hand,” and an additional $110 billion for Medicare modernization. I have said that education reform will be the first bill I propose to Congress. The measure I am proposing today-immediate prescription drugs for seniors-will be my second bill.
    Source: Speech “Modernizing Medicare,” Allentown, PA Sep 5, 2000

    All seniors entitled to Medicare; poor seniors subsidized

    Source: Speech “Modernizing Medicare,” Allentown, PA Sep 5, 2000

    $7.4B for nursing home insurance via tax deductions

    Bush proposed tax breaks yesterday to help older Americans with nursing home insurance and those caring for relatives at home. The governor said his plan, at a cost of $7.4 billion over five years, was an effort to steer people off “a path to financial ruin.”

    Bush wants to provide an income tax deduction to anyone buying long-term care insurance. The deduction, now available only to people who itemize and have big medical expenses, would apply to everyone except those on employer-subsidized long-term care plans. The campaign estimated the cost of that portion of Bush’s proposal at $5.1 billion.

    Also, Bush proposed an additional tax exemption for elderly spouses, parents, or other relatives cared for in one’s home. That exemption is currently $2,750 a year. The campaign estimated the cost of that second proposal at $2.3 billion over 5 years.

    Source: Boston Globe, p. A29, part of “Renewing America’s Purpose” May 11, 2000

    Medicare Rx drug coverage for low-income seniors

    Medicare is one of the most important contributions to seniors’ health care ever enacted. I will work to strengthen Medicare by enhancing its financial stability and ensuring seniors have access to more comprehensive coverage better tailored to their health care needs. We now have an inefficient system that is run by a 132,000-page document where the government makes all the decisions. I support increasing competition and giving seniors the right to choose their health care plans that include basic coverage such as prescription drugs. We should also ensure prescription drug coverage is available for low-income seniors who otherwise cannot afford it.
    Source: Associated Press, in Brockton (MA) Enterprise, p. B6 Mar 1, 2000

    Replace 132,000-page Medicare document with senior choice

    As far as the elderly, [their health care is] controlled by a 132,000-page document to determine how to allocate and ration Medicare dollars to the seniors. It is a plan that is inefficient, it is a plan that’s antiquated. And what our government must do is empower our seniors to be able to make choices for themselves and support premiums for the poorest of seniors.
    Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa Jan 16, 2000

    George W. Bush on Patient Rights

    Patient Rights: No gatekeepers for gynecologists

    BUSH: [A Patients’ Bill of Rights] requires a different kind of leadership style to [accomplish]. In order to get something done on behalf of the people, you have to put partisanship aside. And that’s what we did in my state. We’ve got one of the most advanced patients’ bill of rights. It says, for example, that a woman doesn’t have to go through a gatekeeper to go to her gynecologist. It says that you can’t gag a doctor. The HMO or insurance company can’t gag that doctor from giving you full advice. It allows patients to choose their own doctor if they want to.

    And you can sue an HMO for denying you proper coverage. Now, there’s what’s called an Independent Review Organization that you have to go through first. If you’ve got a complaint with your insurance company, you can take your complaint to an objective body. If they rule on your behalf, the insurance company must follow those rules, or that becomes a cause of action in a court of law.

    Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

    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

    Give seniors choice, not bureaucrats; give incentives too

    Source: Speech “Modernizing Medicare,” Allentown, PA Sep 5, 2000

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

    Source: Associated Press Aug 31, 2000

    Health care access via empowerment, not nationalizing

    These health care proposals will increase access to better health care and health insurance for millions of low-income Americans. And unlike my opponent’s approach, my proposals will not nationalize our health care system; they will empower our patients.
    Source: USA Today editorial by Bush, page 16A Apr 13, 2000

    Private alternatives & state reforms come first

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

    HMOs should cover emergency room; & gynecology directly

    On HMOs: Favors requirement that patients be covered for hospital emergency care, that women be able to go directly to gynecologist, and patients with ongoing illnesses not be forced to change doctors, among other protections. Also favors independent review process and ultimate avenue for legal action by patients, but says any federal move on this front should not supersede protections in place in states.
    Source: Associated Press Mar 14, 2000

    Create Review Board to hear HMO complaints

    Q: Do you believe patients should have the right to sue their HMO? A: I do. A Texas law says if you’ve got a complaint with your HMO and you’re the patient, you can take your complaint to what’s called an Independent Review Organization. It’s a group of objective minded people that hear your claim, that hear your cause. If they decide that the HMO is wrong, and the HMO ignores the finding, that then becomes a cause of action. I would have a National Review Board and make that possible for everyone.
    Source: Des Moines Iowa GOP Debate Dec 13, 1999

    Other candidates on Health Care: George W. Bush on other issues:
    George W. Bush
    Dick Cheney
    Al Gore
    Bill Clinton
    Jesse Ventura
    Ross Perot
    Ralph Nader
    Pat Buchanan
    John McCain
    Civil Rights
    Foreign Policy
    Free Trade
    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    School Choice
    Social Security
    Tax Reform
    War & Peace