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George Bush Sr. on Health Care

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1964: Medicare is socialized medicine

In his 1964 Senate race, George ridiculed his opponent for voting for medical care for the aged. He compared the bill to a federal program to air-condition ship holds for apes and baboons, dubbing it "medical air for the caged."

George seemed to have regressed. His 1964 campaign was opposed to everything his father represented: civil rights, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, open housing, Medicare. George called Medicare "socialized medicine" and Martin Luther King Jr. "a militant."

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.216 & 218 , Sep 14, 2004

Lost a daughter at age 3 to leukemia

George Bush could show a tender, searching side of his faith. He had lost a daughter, Robin, to leukemia. She was only 3 when she died. He was devastated: "I would slip into our church sometimes when no one was there. I would ask God. 'Why? Why this little innocent girl?'" It was a lonely, tortuous time, but he never forgot the lessons he learned in that valley. "I have never lost the faith and spiritual insight from the experience," he later said. "Actually, the pain of that experience taught us just how dependent on God we really are, and how important our faith is. In a moment like that, all you have is God."
Source: The Faith of George W. Bush, by Stephen Mansfield, p. 21 , Apr 12, 2004

We are taking action on AIDS, despite complaints

Q: Magic Johnson quit your Commission on AIDS, saying that there was too much inaction. Tens of thousands paraded past the White House to demonstrate their concern.

BUSH: We have increased funding for AIDS. We've doubled it. My request for this year was $4.9 billion for AIDS, 10 times as much for AIDS victim as per cancer victim. I think that we're showing the proper compassion and concern. I was a little disappointed in Magic, because he came to me and I said, "Now, if you see something we're not doing, get ahold of me, call me, let me know." He went to one meeting, and then we heard that he was stepping down.

PEROT: If you're going to die, you don't have to go through this 10-year cycle that FDA goes through. People with AIDS are more than willing to take that risk.

CLINTON: We need to put one person in charge of the battle against AIDS to cut across all the agencies. We need to accelerate the drug approval process. The President should lead a national effort to change behavior.

Source: The First Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 11, 1992

Frivolous lawsuits run up medical costs by $25 billion

CLINTON: I have proposed a managed competition plan for health care. We've set up a national ceiling on health care costs tied to inflation and population growth set by health care providers, not by the Government. We provide for managed competition, not Government models, in every State, and we control private and public health care costs.

BUSH: Clinton failed to take on the malpractice suit people, these frivolous trial lawyers' lawsuits that are running costs of medical care up by $25 billion to $50 billion. He refuses to put any controls on these crazy lawsuits. If you want to help somebody, don't run the costs up by making doctors have to have 5 or 6 tests where one would do for fear of being sued, or have somebody along the highway not stop to pick up a guy and help him because he's afraid a trial lawyer will come along and sue him. We're suing each other too much and caring for each other too little.

PEROT: We've got plans lying all over the place in Washington. Nobody ever implements them.

Source: The First Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 11, 1992

Choice and coverage: health insurance tax credit

Let's build on our strengths. My plan provides insurance security for all Americans while preserving and increasing the idea of choice. We make basic health insurance affordable for all low-income people not now covered, and we do it by providing a health insurance tax credit of up to $3,750 for each low-income family. And the middle class gets help, too. And by reforming the health insurance market, my plan assures that Americans will have access to basic health insurance even if they change jobs or develop serious health problems. We must bring costs under control, preserve quality, preserve choice, and reduce the people's nagging daily worry about health insurance. My plan, the details of which I'll announce very shortly, does just that.
Source: Pres. Bush's 1992 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 28, 1992

Increase taxes on cigarettes

Along with the guarantee of health security, we all have to admit, too, there must be more responsibility on the part of all of us in how we use this system. People have to take their kids to get immunized. We should all take advantage of preventive care. We must all work together to stop the violence that explodes our emergency rooms. We have to practice better health habits, and we can't abuse the system. And those who don't have insurance under our approach will get coverage, but they'll have to pay something for it, too. The minority of businesses that provide no insurance at all, and in so doing shift the cost of the care of their employees to others, should contribute something. People who smoke should pay more for a pack of cigarettes. Everybody can contribute something if we want to solve the health care crisis. There can't be any more something for nothing. It will not be easy but it can be done.
Source: Pres. Bush's 1992 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 28, 1992

Let people buy into Medicaid; no mandated insurance

Q: Today, 37 million Americans cannot afford any health insurance, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. What will you do?

BUSH: One thing I will not do is sock every business in the country and, thus, throw some people out of work. I this economic recovery going. What I will do is permit people to buy into Medicaid. I believe that's the answer. I am proud to have been part of an administration that past the first catastrophic health bill.

There isn't any such thing as free out there. It either gets passed along as increased prices or it gets passed along by people being put out of work. So, I think we ought to do it in the Medicaid system. I think we ought to do it by full enforcement of the catastrophic h insurance. I think we ought to do it by everybody doing what they can do out of conscience. It's a terrible problem in terms of flexibility on private insurance. But I just don't want to mandate it and risk setting the recovery back.

Source: Presidential Debate in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (APP) , Sep 25, 1988

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Other past presidents on Health Care: George Bush Sr. 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)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014