In Midwest, Bush ‘Derides’ Gore’s Medicare Proposals
On Nov. 2, Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) "deride[d]" Vice President Al Gore's (D) proposals for Medicare reform and a prescription drug benefit throughout the "politically pivotal" Midwest, portraying Gore as having "a dangerously robust appetite for federal regulation," New York Times reports in a front-page story. Bush visited the "toss-up" states of Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin, where he told voters that his own prescription drug plan "would give elderly people new choices," while Gore's plan "would simply give them new rules." Gore seeks to provide prescription drug coverage through the existing Medicare program, while Bush hopes to subsidize private insurers to provide the benefit. Bush labeled Gore's approach as "the triumph of federal dictates over individual autonomy." The Times reports that Bush was "flanked on stage with two easels," as he exhibited diagrams of Gore's Medicare prescription drug plan to voters in a St. Louis, Mo., suburb. Referring to the diagrams that were nearly "indecipherable at a distance," Bush said, "this is an incredible maze of what the health care plan would look like under the vision of more government in our lives." Bush added that under these proposals, Gore "wants to add, incredibly enough, 182 mandates -- new mandates -- on top of 132,000 pages of rules and regulations in Washington," although Bush did not explain the reference specifically, the Times reports. Bush said that Medicare "should no longer be a political issue. It's time to reform that important program. It's time to keep the promise to our seniors." Bush also took a stab at the vice president's stance on universal health care on Nov. 2, linking Gore to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's "failed health care plan" of 1993. Speaking to crowd of more than 5,000 people in a St. Charles, Mo., sports arena, Bush said, "[Gore] says he's for a step-by- step plan for universal coverage. No folks, he's for a hop, skip and a jump to nationalized health care." Bush said that Gore is proposing "three times more government spending than Bill Clinton did when he ran," adding, "And he says that the bureaucracy won't increase? Who's he kidding, folks?" To voters in Glen Ellyn, Ill., Bush said, "During the third [presidential] debate, he looked into the camera and said, 'I'm against big government.' I could barely contain myself. Right in front of all those cameras, I nearly fell out." The Times notes that Bush "built on a trend from his recent days on the trail," calling on voters to support Republican senators "facing tough reelection battles." Bush on Nov. 2 promoted Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) and made a pitch for Sen. Rod Grams (R-Minn.) on Nov. 1 (Bruni, New York Times, 11/3). Medicare Free-For-All Bush also addressed Medicare reform during a "candidate free air time" spot on PBS. To view the spot, go to http://www.pbs.org/democracy/video/index.html.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.