Replying to Bush on Health Care

We’ve replied below in two ways to the president’s health care proposals: 1) sentence-by-sentence, not leaving out a single word of the two slight paragraphs he devoted to the subject, and 2) with general talking points.




“Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility.”


We have now 46 million uninsured. The only reason the poor and elderly have any protection at all is because of Medicaid and Medicare, two programs historically opposed by the Republican Party. Both programs are under threat today from privatization and cutbacks by the very Administration that is boasting of its “responsible” provision of healthcare to the poor and elderly.

“For all Americans, we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and help people afford the insurance coverage they need.”

President Bush’s proposals do nothing to stem the rising cost of health care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, or help people afford the insurance coverage they need. In fact, they do the opposite.

“We will strengthen health savings accounts by making sure individuals and small business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.”

The Administration touts Health Savings Accounts but in fact they will only encourage the healthy and the wealthy to leave our existing insurance pools, abandoning the sicker and the poorer to cope with ever-rising insurance costs. Moreover, Health Savings Accounts provide yet another tax cut to the wealthy.

Another Bush Administration “remedy,” Association Health Plans, simply offer insurance companies a way to avoid the regulations that states have passed to protect patients, and thereby lets them offer woefully inadequate policies that offer precious little real insurance.

“We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance.”

We already have “portability” of health coverage with COBRA, which allows people who lose or change jobs to continue the insurance they get from their employer for 18 months. The catch is, they have to pay for it. Most people find this an empty right, since they can’t afford the premiums. Instead of “portability,” health care should be a right guaranteed to everyone, regardless of their employment.

“And because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice, leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single ob-gyn, I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.”

Healthcare for the patient after a malpractice incident is a major component of the expense of malpractice insurance, especially for infants harmed in childbirth. A crucial element in addressing the malpractice crisis is national health insurance, which will radically reduce malpractice costs because the expense of any medical care needed as a result of an injury will be covered. Moreover, the cost of malpractice premiums is less than 1% of total national health expenditures.




1.      With the country facing escalating costs for health care and millions of our people with no insurance at all, President Bush has put forward a pathetically-weak retread of proposals he’s put forward before, ideas that will do nothing to solve the country’s problems. In fact, it will make them worse.


2.      Bush and his allies believe Americans have too much insurance and overuse the health care system. They hope to push us instead into buying skimpy plans that will leave us exposed to high costs and in many cases bankruptcy.


3.      HSAs, high-deductible insurance, and AHPs will not affect the high-cost portions of health care, but their limited coverage will drive people into avoiding preventive and routine care, thus causing unnecessary illness and death  and driving up medical costs.


4.      We need fundamental reform to fix our broken health care system.


5.      Only single payer national health insurance can extend coverage to everyone while offering comprehensive coverage, controlling costs and reducing the vast administrative waste in the system.


See also this superb two-page critique of the Bush proposals.



Joanne Landy and Leonard Rodberg are Executive Director and Treasurer, respectively, of Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro Chapter. Please write immediately to newspapers, radio stations, tv and other media to set the record straight on President Bush’s State of the Union health care proposals. At a time like this, popular response can make a big difference. Feel free to draw on these comments as you assemble your own response. Needless to say, you won’t be able to include all of the points, since your letters and comments will have to be brief. Please send us copies of letters you write and tell us about talk shows you participate in. If you are published, tell us that too. Write us at pnhpnyc@igc.org.

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