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Nov. 25, 2003

Bush Heads for Bright Lights and Big Dollars in Vegas, Promoting Special-Interest Backed Medicare and Medical Malpractice Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush travels to Las Vegas and Phoenix today to collect at least $2 million from donors at two private fundraisers – and to give speeches touting today’s passage of the special interest- backed Medicare legislation and advocating for federal legislation that would restrict the rights of injured patients to sue in medical malpractice cases. Both bills would provide a huge windfall for Bush’s biggest donors as outlined in a fact sheet Public Citizen released today.

The Medicare bill, which the Senate approved today, provides a huge windfall for drug companies (the government will not be able to negotiate drug prices, and efforts to reimport drugs from Canada have been stymied), doctors (who will receive $2.4 billion in increased payments for services), hospitals (which will receive at least $2.7 billion in increased payments) and the insurance and HMO industries (which will get subsidized to offer prescription drug coverage and receive $14.2 billion in incentives to do so).

The medical malpractice bill, approved in the U.S. House of Representatives but blocked by the U.S. Senate in July, contains legal and financial protections that would benefit some of the president’s most generous campaign contributors. Like the Medicare bill, this measure has been pushed by drug manufacturers, insurance companies, HMOs, nursing homes and medical device companies in addition to doctors. It would limit to $250,000 the amount of money that even the most severely injured patients could receive for lifelong "pain and suffering," and it would shield companies and health-care providers from some liability altogether.

Those who stand to gain from these measures include 12 of Bush’s Rangers and Pioneers – those who bundle contributions totaling $200,000 or $100,000 respectively. They are the high donors who helped Bush get elected and are helping to build his campaign war chest to get re-elected. Click here to view a fact sheet detailing who these people are on WhiteHouseForSale.org, a site created by Public Citizen to track the influence of special-interest money on presidential elections, including the activities of the Rangers and Pioneers.

"The president’s solution to the lack of drug coverage for seniors and the higher malpractice rates insurance companies are charging doctors is to protect well-heeled supporters while punishing patients and their families," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "The White House is happy to back these measures because they are what Bush’s big campaign donors demand."


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