Copyright 2000 / Los Angeles Times
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September 1, 2000, Friday, Home Edition
SECTION: Part A; Part 1; Page 22; National Desk
LENGTH: 556 words
GORE KEEPS HEALTH ISSUES AFLOAT;
THE VICE PRESIDENT AND RUNNING MATE LIEBERMAN PUSH PATIENTS' BILL OF
RIGHTS. LOCAL CONCERNS AND AN UNHEALTHY BREAKFAST ARE ALSO ON THE MENU.
BYLINE: JAMES GERSTENZANG, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Vice President Al Gore jawed his way through his health care agenda this
week with ferocious determination.
But Gore's concerns about health
didn't seem to apply to himself Thursday when he asked the woman running the
coffee shop on a ferry: "Is there any unhealthy breakfast food here?"
was quickly gratified with a meal resembling an Egg McMuffin.
sunup in Seattle, and the Democratic presidential candidate and his running
mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, were making a round trip with morning commuters
between the city and Bainbridge Island.
The message of the day--the
Democratic ticket's support for legislation protecting the rights of patients in
HMOs--would wait. Clearly, the vice president was feeling chipper, getting into
the tenor of the Northwest as he rode the ferry and talked about salmon.
The mood had carried over from the night before, when he talked
expansively about the time a year ago when he and his son, Albert III, now 17,
made a three-day trek to the summit of Mt. Rainier and back to the base. The
14,000-foot mountain loomed beyond the windows of Air Force Two as he flew to
It had been, he said, a head-clearing experience, much like a
reverse trip down a snow-covered mountain on skis.
"I'm so bad at it
that I can't think about anything except getting to the bottom of the mountain.
And this was that, times 100," he said.
On the ferry Thursday morning,
Gore was versed in local issues: He knew to assure would-be voters "I am
campaigning for a third boat," a reference to commuters' desire for a third
vessel on the run.
When Jeff Siddons, traveling to Bainbridge Island,
asked what Gore would do to restore salmon to the region, the vice president
said, "The salmon represent the linchpin of this whole region's balance between
the economy and the environment."
Siddons confided later "his response
was helpful to me. At least he knows what's going on here."
The day in
Seattle completed a trip that took him from Florida to New Mexico and the
Pacific Northwest over four days, his focus each day on health care and little
The vice president's campaign aides believe that, in their fight
against Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, they
have a political winner in voters' concerns that Medicare will not be secure,
that the elderly need help paying for prescriptions and that they have no
protection against one of Gore's favorite targets: "bean counters sitting behind
computer terminals" denying them needed care in health maintenance
"We need a meaningful, real, enforceable
patients' bill of rights in this country," he said at a rally
that attracted about 2,500 people, an overflow crowd, to Westlake Park, a plaza
in downtown Seattle.
Gore favors legislation that would guarantee
patients access to specialists and clinical trials, treatment in the nearest
emergency rooms, "fair and timely" appeals of complaints with medical plans and
recourse for those harmed by a medical plan.
Bush has supported a
Republican proposal in Congress that would not provide the same guaranteed
access to the most convenient emergency rooms, specialists and clinical trials
or the same protections against harmful decisions.
During the rally,
Gore received the endorsement of the American Nurses Assn.
GRAPHIC: PHOTO: Democratic running mates Joseph I.
Lieberman, left, and Al Gore take in the morning on Seattle-area ferry.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Reuters PHOTO: (A2) IN NORTHWEST--Vice President Al Gore and his
running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, took their health care message to
Seattle. Left, Gore greets supporters after a health care rally. A22
PHOTOGRAPHER: Associated Press
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