February 24, 2003


Bush Proposes Major Changes in Health Plans: The president's proposals offer a fundamentally different
vision of social welfare policy, many experts say. (ROBIN TONER and ROBERT PEAR, 2/24/03, NY Times)
President Bush has begun one of the most ambitious efforts to reinvent Medicare and Medicaid since the programs were created 38 years ago. Combined with his earlier plan for Social Security, the proposals offer a fundamentally different vision of social welfare policy, many experts say.

Mr. Bush's proposals for Medicare and Medicaid, taking shape in recent weeks, would transform these pillars of the Great Society and their guarantee of health benefits to the elderly, disabled and poor.

States would have far more power to determine who receives what benefits in the Medicaid program, which covers 45 million low-income Americans. The elderly would rely more on private health plans, and less on the government, for their health benefits under Medicare, which covers 40 million elderly and disabled people.

The administration's vision for Medicare and Social Security moves away from the notion that everyone should be in the same government-managed system with the same benefits. It promises individuals more choices, including the option of picking a private health plan or investing some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market.

But critics say these proposals would also mean less security, fewer guaranteed benefits and more financial risk for beneficiaries.

The magnitude of the Bush proposals is only gradually dawning on members of Congress. Unlike President Bill Clinton and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mr. Bush has not boasted about the boldness of his vision for these programs, perhaps because he is mindful of the voters' anxiety about major changes in health care.

Indeed, a senior administration official dismissed the idea that Mr. Bush was attempting fundamental change in Medicare and Medicaid.

Having proposed and/or effected radical transformations of military doctrine and structure, homeland security, social security, health care, public education, taxation, welfare services, etc., etc., etc., it may be almost time to recognize that George W. Bush isn't the do-nothing moderate his father was, eh? Posted by Orrin Judd at February 24, 2003 12:11 PM

Let's just hope libertarians and moderates remain convinced he's a do-nothing President -- then perhaps he won't run on the Reagan-II "Morning in America" theme for re-election, and can actually continue to push forward on reforms!

Posted by: Kevin Whited at February 25, 2003 12:04 AM