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King: Bush outlines health care plan

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CNN Correspondent John King  

(CNN) -- President Bush outlined his plan for reforming the U.S. health care system Monday in a speech at the Medical College of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee. Before the speech, CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King discussed the president's agenda.

KING: This is a speech that will get some attention for how different it looks, if you will, since September 11, the president not putting much time into focusing on key domestic items on his policy agenda. He, of course, has been overwhelmed by the war on terrorism, the homeland security debate ..., dealing with a somewhat contentious argument with Democrats in the Congress over the struggling U.S. economy.

Bush will pull together many ideas he has touched on in the past, but never has he given as president what aides describe as a comprehensive view of what he believes the federal government should be doing when it comes to health care. [He] will talk about three themes: affordability, accessibility, and accountability.

Bush will [recommend] tax credits that would allow either individuals or families to get a tax credit if they have to go out and buy their own health insurance. He will also [recommend] more than $1 billion in funding that [would go] to local community health centers. ... Bush says that's critical to make health care accessible to low income Americans who don't have insurance.

And the president on the accountability front will talk about trying to reach agreement this year with Congress on an issue that fell apart [when] negotiations collapsed late last year -- the so-called HMO patients' bill of rights.

The president will also talk about more medical research, some of that geared to the war on terrorism, more biomedical research.

All of this is part of the president's effort to focus attention early in this new year on his domestic policy agenda, all more important because it is a congressional election year, because Democrats and Republicans in Congress want to turn back now to many of the issues, like health care, that were put aside late last year after September 11.




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