PRESIDENT Clinton's speech before the National Governor's Association meeting in Tulsa, Okla., yesterday was intended to assure the nation's governors that his health-care plan gives states broad flexibility and to ask for their help when he presents the initiative next month. Referring to implementing reform, he said, "I don't think we can do it unless we do it on a bipartisan basis."
An earlier draft of Mr. Clinton's speech, obtained Sunday, contained no insights on how Clinton will propose paying for his health-care overhaul, although it made clear he will require companies and individuals who do not now buy insurance to do so.
Instead, the speech laid out the broad outlines of the Clinton proposal and the strategy for selling it.
"In the months ahead, we cannot let health care reform fall victim to partisan bickering," Clinton stated in the draft speech. "Reform is not a Democratic challenge, not a Republican challenge, not a liberal or conservative challenge. It is an American challenge that we must face together."
While short of specifics, the draft speech said that the health-reform plan will include:
* A comprehensive package of basic benefits for all Americans that emphasizes preventative care.
* Demands of fair pricing from drug companies, and incentives for doctors and hospitals who cut costs.
* Expanded home-based long-term care options for the elderly.
Clinton also said in the draft that "instead of allowing individuals and companies who don't purchase insurance to get a free ride, we will demand they contribute."
Vice President Al Gore Jr. was on hand at the meeting on Sunday, promising that the administration's "reinventing government" initiative will free states from endless federal mandates and regulatory morass.
"Government is writing with a quill pen in an age of WordPerfect, and it is time for a change," the vice president said after waving a several-page brochure of regulations covering government purchasing of ash trays. "What worked a long time ago won't work today," he said. Family vacation, press in tow
The First Family is headed to Martha's Vineyard for an 11-day vacation and rental rates already are rising in anticipation.
The large entourage of Secret Service agents, aides and reporters that will descend on the island along with the Clintons was expected to worsen the island's summer housing shortage and traffic congestion.
But people renting out property will get top dollar for their digs.
CBS is paying the MacKenty family $10,000 for their home to accomodate six reporters and photographers documenting the First Family at play.
"They made us an offer we couldn't refuse," Maria MacKenty told the Boston Herald.
Aides said the Clintons - scheduled to arrive on Aug. 19, the president's 47th birthday - will stay at the 15-acre estate of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
The president's schedule includes plenty of golf. Vernon Jordan of the Clinton transition team booked as many tee times as a nonmember is allowed at Farm Neck Golf Club.
Famous faces are nothing new on this island 15 miles off the southeast coast of Massachusetts. Property owners include Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and pop singer Carly Simon.