Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 21, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WHAT BUSH SAYS vs. WHAT BUSH DOES....FIRST IN A SERIES....For those few people left who still wonder why some of us think that you can't trust what George Bush says, a good example presents itself today. At issue is Bush's position on the patients' bill of rights, a piece of legislation that allows people to sue HMOs when they screw up, thus holding HMOs as accountable for their mistakes as anyone else. Is Bush for this or against this? Let's take a look:

  • 1995: The Texas legislature passes PBOR legislation. Bush vetoes it.

  • 1997: PBOR comes up again, but Bush declines to support it. "The governor is concerned about opening a Pandora's box of new lawsuits," says Karen Hughes. The Texas legislature passes it anyway by a veto-proof majority. It doesn't really matter at this point, but Bush specifically refuses to sign the right-to-sue portion of the law anyway.

Got it? Bush is against PBOR. It's bad for business. Now let's fast forward.

  • 2000: Bush ads declare, "While Washington was deadlocked, he passed a patients' bill of rights. Under Gov. Bush, Texas enacted some of the most comprehensive patient protection laws in the nation." Bush himself brags, "We are one of the first states that said you can sue an HMO for denying you proper coverage."

Hey, suddenly Bush loves PBOR, especially the part about suing HMOs! In fact he showed leadership on the issue while he was governor. Now let's fast forward again.

  • 2004: Gregg Bloche writes today that Bush has apparently changed his mind yet again:

    The Texas law he championed is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and this week the administration will ask that the justices strike it down. More broadly, the administration will ask the court to abandon a body of recent precedents that expose the managed-care industry in many states to negligence suits for withholding of coverage and care. Legal accountability for denying coverage, it contends, could prevent the creation of "innovative health plans."

Hmmm, bad for business again. Bush is once again opposed to PBOR.

So what does Bush say about PBOR? Whatever will get him elected, apparently. What does Bush do about PBOR? Opposes it every chance he gets.

Kevin Drum 6:32 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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