Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What President Bush Said in His 2008 State Of The Union Address About Health Care

See the prior post reviewing his 2007 speech. You won't be able to tell the difference between this year and last.

President Bush's 2008 health care record will match his 2007 results--nothing was or will be accomplished.

It is not surprising that a President in his last year would not launch any new health care initiatives. He also barely mentioned the need to deal with our giant entitlement programs--including Medicare--in last night's State of the Union Address.

The President already has some big health care accomplishments to point to--albeit controversial ones. He dramatically expanded the old Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) into today's Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), passed the Medicare Part D drug program that covers millions of seniors, and greatly expanded private Medicare plans.

And there are millions more uninsured than there were in January 2001. Health care costs have doubled since 2000. The President accomplished none of his proposals to deal with either in spite of having a Republican Congress for six of his years in office. Critics point to the Part D program adding $8 trillion to the long-term unfunded Medicare liability.

This year, the Congress still faces having to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) before March 2009, when the current temporary extension expires, and again dealing with a broken Medicare physician fee system that will cut doc reimbursement by 10% this July and another 5% in January 2009. It is clear that this President is not going to engage in any serious way in working with the Congress to deal with these issues.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, would just as well put all the big decisions off until early 2009 when they hope a new Congress and a new President--Democrat or Republican--will be more interested in results.

Voters look for the next President and the next Congress to make a major effort to reform America's health care system.

Republicans may look back at those six years when they had the White House and both houses of Congress and wonder why they squandered an opportunity.
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