Gore Demands Better Health Coverage for Women

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Monday September 18 7:30 PM ET

Gore Demands Better Health Coverage for Women


By Mark Egan

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Vice President Al Gore kicked off a week of campaigning on Monday by promising to battle insurance companies for the health care he says women need for diseases such as breast cancer.

With the economy strong, Gore has focused heavily in recent weeks on quality-of-life issues like Medicare, health insurance and prescription drug costs. This week, the Democratic candidate plans to continue casting himself as the defender of the American family against powerful interests.

At an event at the University of Nevada, Gore took on health maintenance organizations, demanding that they cover recommended treatments for breast cancer.

``I'm calling for tough new patients' rights legislation to make sure women get the best health care, not just the cheapest, by making sure women diagnosed with breast cancer can get a second opinion,'' Gore said at the event in front of a few hundred supporters.

``The issue today is whether or not we will have a president who will stand up and fight for families who need healthcare, for women who need healthcare and for children who need healthcare,'' he said.

``I'm sick and tired of medical decisions not being made by doctors but by bean counters ... that do not have a license to practice medicine and do not have a right to play God.''

Gore supports the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act, a bipartisan bill before Congress that would prohibit HMOs from using financial incentives to encourage providers to limit access to medical treatment.

With medical costs spiraling, HMOs have sought to cap their expenses by making patients use a specific network of doctors and secure approval before undergoing costly procedures.

The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act would require minimum hospital stays for breast cancer treatments, including mastectomies, lumpectomies and lymph node dissections. It would also allow patients a second opinion from a specialist.

Health is a theme Gore has focused on for much of his campaign and fits in with his pledge for campaign finance reform, which, he says, would take big money out of politics.

``I will take on the powerful whenever necessary,'' Gore said, reiterating his promise to provide prescription drug coverage for seniors.

The Bush campaign questioned Gore's truthfulness when he said at a recent stop in Florida that his mother-in-law paid nearly three times as much as his dog for the same arthritis medicine. ``Al Gore misled Florida seniors on prescription drugs,'' the Bush campaign said in a written statement.

``For ailing seniors, the issue of prescription drugs is very important and is a matter that provokes strong emotions. It would be wrong if Al Gore invented facts about his own family to take advantage of these strong emotions,'' said Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett.

But the Gore campaign dismissed the allegations, saying the candidate had not misled his audience or stretched the facts.

``His mother-in-law was prescribed the drug Lodine and his dog was prescribed the animal version of the same drug and we do stand by the figures used by the vice president,'' said Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway.

With less than two months before election day on Nov. 7, Gore remains ahead in opinion polls, a position he has enjoyed in recent weeks after trailing his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, for months.

Bush has sought to reignite his campaign by releasing a ''Blueprint for the Middle Class,'' a 15-page summary of his position on issues important to the middle-income voters he will need to win the election.

The Gore campaign on Monday said an analysis of Bush's document revealed that of the six families highlighted, two of the families would be better off under Gore's economic plan and another two would likely be better off.

While in Las Vegas, Gore will officially accept the endorsement of the 1.5 million-member Teamsters Union.

The union endorsed Gore earlier this month. Other major unions endorsed him quicker, but Gore's relations with the Teamsters were strained by a series of trade issues, notably a trade pact with China.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), September 18, 2000


ok, Gore has my vote. I had a lumpectomy and had to do it awake, leave in an hour or so, and the pain meds weren't strong enough.

-- helen (b@s.m), September 18, 2000.

This is discrimination against men. Men have health issues just as much as women. Prostate and testicle cancer among men is rampant. Breast cancer is a mans disease too. High blood pressure and diabetes especially among blacks and hispanics is now an epidemic. It's time for men to stand up and demand the same goodies as women. I know Ward would if he were still alive.

-- Mrs. Cleaver (Mrs. Cleaver@LITB.xcom), September 18, 2000.

I wonder if Gore was smart to enough to read the information on both his mother's prescription and his dog's. Perhaps the animal version is three times as weak as the human version. And this is the man who might run our country?

-- Scared (give@me.bush), September 19, 2000.

But Mrs. Cleaver, Al's going for the women's vote. It's all political rhetoric. I agree; men should also be allowed to get a second opinion. As for staying in the hospital, let me out as soon as possible. Please don't keep me there around disease and infection. After my surgery (major), I went home the next day. I couldn't walk very well but so glad to be out of the hospital, surrounded by a caring family.

One other point: insurance is a business, nothing more. It's not in it for the charity. If you don't like your insurance carrier find another. It may cost you more but if it's what you want, then (as Ken would say) that's the way a free market works. Medical costs are spiraling due to lawsuits more than research. A doctor has to pay beaucoup bucks for legal insurance, almost to the point that his salary has decreased over recent years. Gore if you really want to do something to fix it, go after the types like the prez and Mrs prez.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), September 19, 2000.

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