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PRESIDENT CLINTON: URGING CONGRESS TO PASS A BIPARTISAN HEALTH CARE AGENDA
"If the Republican leadership permits the votes, this fall can bring the most important health care reforms in years. But if they do nothing but delay, they will only make the eventual cures harder to achieve. It's the same simple choice familiar to every doctor: proactive, preventative medicine now, or expensive, last-minute interventions later. The American people are counting on the Republican leaders -- and all leaders -- to make the responsible choice."
President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, September 8, 1999
Today, at the White House, President Clinton urged Congress to work together to pass critical health care initiatives, including a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights; Medicare reforms that strengthen and modernize the program; privacy protections for medical records; and other key issues that have long been on the nation's agenda.
Urging Congress to Make this Fall a Season of Health Care Legislative Achievements President Clinton unveiled a checklist of important health care quality and coverage issues, many of which have long been under consideration and now have broad-based bipartisan support. The President challenged Congress to pass:
- A strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. The bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights already has a bipartisan majority in the House, and the endorsement of over 200 health care and consumer organizations, including the AMA.
- Medicare reforms that strengthen and modernize the program by making it more competitive; providing adequate financing to extend the life of the trust fund; and improving the benefit package, including the addition of a voluntary prescription drug benefit.
- Medical records privacy protections. Noting that the deadline for Congress to pass legislation in this area expired in August, President Clinton pledged to use executive action -- if Congress does not act by this fall -- to issue new regulations that would protect the privacy of medical records.
- Health care protection for Americans with disabilities who choose to work. The Jeffords-Kennedy-Roth-Moynihan Work Incentives Improvement Act would enable individuals with disabilities to go to work without losing their eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid. This legislation passed the Senate by a unanimous vote, and presently has bipartisan support in the House.
- Legislation to increase the price of cigarettes and decrease the number of children who smoke. Of the 400,000 Americans who die each year from smoking-related diseases, almost 90 percent of them started smoking as teenagers. President Clinton's balanced budget plan would raise the price of cigarettes, one of the most effective deterrents to teen smoking.
- Increased funding for children's health insurance and health coverage for eligible legal immigrants. President Clinton urged Congress to pass his proposal to extend the availability and uses of the $500 million fund for TANF-Medicaid outreach. The President also called on Congress to give states the option to extend Medicaid eligibility to legal immigrant children, pregnant women, and SSI recipients.
- Financial assistance for those in need of long-term care or their caregivers. President Clinton's balanced budget plan includes a tax credit and other initiatives to help the over five million Americans who require long-term care.
- Additional funds for essential public health priorities including biomedical research, mental health services, and the Indian Health Service
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