President Bush conceded that his Medicare and Social Security reform initiatives failed to gain traction with Congress and said that the problems will only grow for the next president.
In an interview with a German television station, Bush said that the next president will inherit a deepening healthcare crisis, complete with rapidly disappearing dollars for safety net programs like Medicare and pension plans for the elderly.
Almost every step of the way, Bushs reform plans relied on individual accountability and choicewith a nod toward open-market fixeswhile calling on Medicare to become a wiser payer of medical services. Yet even with a Republican-led Congress, the presidents agenda met with stiff pushback.
And its very hard to get done because a lot of the politicians here in America really dont want to confront the problem until it becomes immediate, according to a transcript of the interview posted to the White House Web site. So I tried for seven years to get Congress to do the hard work. They didnt want to, and so the next president is going to have to try to do it.
Richard Pollack, executive vice president for the American Hospital Association, said the presidents statement confirms what we all already knew.
Major reforms in Social Security and Medicare can only be accomplished in a bipartisan manner, Pollack said. And as we switch into high gear for (the 2008 presidential campaign), it is unrealistic that having that type of discussion can take place.
I dont think its going to be any easier in the future, said Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals. The growth (curve) will be higher and all the same ideological and political issues are there that make it so difficult today. -- by Matthew DoBias
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