Long-Term Care Event
Remarks by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
The White House
January 4, 1999
Good morning. It's a great pleasure to join the President in welcoming all of you to the White House.
First, I want to wish everyone here a very happy new year. In fact, I find it very fitting that for our first official White House event in 1999, we can come together to talk about an issue that affects so many Americansan issue that affects every family and every community. And that's the challenge of providing quality, long-term care for our parents, grandparents, and other family members with disabilities.
I am particularly pleased that we could be joined by so many members of Congress, and I would like to thank Senators Breaux, Dodd, Reid, Spector and Wyden for joining us, as well as Senator Feinstein, who's joining us shortly by satellite. In addition, I want to thank Representatives Brown, Carp, Cummings, Hoyer, and Grant for joining us as well.
We're also pleased that Treasury Secretary Rubin, HHS Secretary Shalala, and Director of the Office of Personnel Janice LaChance are here as well for these important announcements. Our Vice President and Mrs. Gore will be joining us by satellite from an adult day care center in Sacramento, Calif. Later, they will talk to us about the people they have met who could benefit from some help in caring for their disabled and chronically ill family members.
Every family has its own stories about how difficult it is to see those we love grow infirm or become disabled, and the challenges we face in giving them the care and medical attention they need and deserve. I know how hard this is from my own family.
And I know that millions of Americans voluntarily provide unpaid, informal long-term care to family members or friends today. In fact, almost 40 percent of all informal caregiving to aging Americans is provided by their children, and dominantly by their daughters. And today, more and more working families are caught in the middle between nurturing their growing children and nursing their aging parents.
We've come to call this the sandwiched lifebut that doesn't even come close to describing the small, daily acts of love and frustration; triumph and worry; hope and exhaustion that so many are familiar with as they struggle to meet the many different needs of their loved ones.
I'm very proud of all that we have done in this administration under the President's leadership to help America's parents meet the responsibilities of family that they take as well as their responsibilities at work. But we still have some work to do.
We have to provide greater support for quality, affordable child care. We have to expand after-school programs, and we have to provide better home and community-based long-term care for the elderly. The President's agenda is for Congress to help millions and millions of American families to meet their most important obligations. Everyone knows that there isn't any substitute for families being able to care for their loved ones. But we sometimes forget that the care-givers also need care; they too carry an illness that hurts. So what is being proposed today is truly a generational proposal.
These initiatives will build on the President's deep commitment to the well-being of older Americans and Americans with disabilitieswhich includes efforts to promote higher quality nursing homes, a far stronger Medicare program, and making Medicaid more flexible.
It is now my pleasure to introduce one of those Americans who knows firsthand what we are talking about. Patricia Darlak and her husband Dennis are here with us because they understand the challenges of why this proposal is so timely and essential. Patricia knows how difficult it is to be a good mother to her children, a great teacher to her students, and a loving and responsible daughter to her own ailing mother. And so today these initiatives are designed to support people like Patricia. She is literally standing in for millions of other Americans who are providing care to aging loved ones or those with disabilities who are often in the midst of an already demanding life.
So please join me in welcoming Patricia Darlak.