Bob Dole, presumptive Republican nominee, On Medicare:
An avowed deficit hawk, Dole was a principal author of the GOP balanced-budget plan that called for reducing projected Medicare spending by $168 billion over seven years. Growth in hospital payments would have been reduced by $40 billion, and payments to physicians would have been slowed by $24 billion.
Dole was known as one of the Senate's most active members on health issues. He voted against Medicare when it was enacted in 1965, a detail that Democrats repeatedly have used to pummel him.
He introduced a bill that would create a commission, patterned after the 1983 Social Security Commission, to seek long-term solutions to the financial problems of the Medicare Part A trust fund.
On health insurance reform: Dole voted for the Kassebaum-Kennedy plan. He introduced an amendment to the bill to add provisions to spur the growth of medical savings accounts. His amendment was defeated in the Senate, but an MSA program was included in the finished bill. Dole had his own incremental health reform plan in 1993 that was a far less ambitious proposal than the Clinton healthcare reform bill.
In his own words: "Congress has tried repeatedly to grapple with (Medicare reform) and largely failed. However, I continue to believe that the very nature of the problem makes it difficult to resolve in the normal give and take of the legislative process."
Ross Perot, founder and likely candidate of the Reform Party, On Medicare:
In his book Intensive Care: We Must Save Medicare and Medicaid Now, Perot advocates significant reductions in the rate of growth in Medicare spending. Among the changes he promotes are increasing the beneficiary share of Medicare costs and increasing the eligibility age by three years. Generally, Perot's plan would allow seniors to choose between many of the same managed-care options as the GOP and White House plans. Perot also supports allowing seniors to move into medical savings accounts, a proposal supported by the GOP but loathed by the Clinton administration.
In his own words: "Rather than taking a huge first step with a new untested system, wouldn't it make sense to pilot test a number of proposals? The danger of scrapping an old system of any kind is that a new system may not be any better."
Richard Lamm, former Colorado governor and Reform Party hopeful, On Medicare:
Lamm said he believes in balancing the budget through "compassionate austerity." That means pulling the plug on entitlements, especially Social Security and Medicare.
On healthcare spending: To keep from spending so much on healthcare, Lamm thinks the United States should reduce the number of hospitals and doctors. He also believes the nation should restrict use of hospital intensive care to benefit only those who have a good chance of recovering and resuming productive lives. Rationing of scarce medical resources, in the manner of the Oregon Medicaid plan, is something Lamm believes should be given more serious consideration.
In his own words: "Nothing my generation has done to control healthcare costs has been effective. Neither political party can come to grips with entitlements."