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New York Times - POLITICS; Gingrich on Medicare

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Following is an excerpt from remarks made by Speaker Newt Gingrich to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield conference on Oct. 24, 1995, in Washington. The words in boldface are broadcast in an A.F.L.-C.I.O. advertisement that Republicans are trying to persuade television stations not to run.

Now let me talk a little bit about Medicare. Let me start at the vision level so you understand how radically different we are and why it's so hard for the press corps to cover us.

Medicare is the 1964 Blue Cross plan codified into law by Lyndon B. Johnson, and it is about what you'd -- I mean, if you all went out in the marketplace tomorrow morning and said, "Hi, I've got a 1964 Blue Cross plan," I'll let you decide how competitive you'd be. But I don't think very.

So what we're trying to do, first of all, is say, O.K., here is a government monopoly plan. We're designing a free-market plan. Now, they're very different models. You know, we tell Boris Yeltsin, "Get rid of centralized command bureaucracies. Go to the marketplace."

O.K., what do you think the Health Care Financing Administration is? It's a centralized command bureaucracy. It's everything we're telling Boris Yeltsin to get rid of. Now, we don't get rid of it in round one because we don't think that that's politically smart, and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it -- voluntarily.

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