THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||July 6, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON HEALTH CARE AND PRIORITIES
The Rose Garden
10:45 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm delighted to be herewith Secretary Shalala, Mr. Apfel, and Ron Pollack to make anannouncement today. Let me first, by way of introduction, say, asall of you know, the First Lady and I just returned this weekend fromour trip to China. It was a trip that advanced America's interestsand values in a secure, stable, and increasingly open China byachieving solid progress in a number of areas and an honest,unprecedentedly open discussion with both Chinese leaders and theChinese people.
We've come back to America at a critical time. We'reexactly halfway through the Major League Baseball season, but we'realready in the ninth inning of this congressional session. We haveto use wisely the remaining 38 working days to make a season ofprogress.
With an economy the strongest in a generation and oursocial fabric strengthening, it is, as I have said repeatedly,extremely tempting for all of us to kick back and soak in the goodtimes. But that would be wrong. There are still enormous challengesand opportunities facing the United States on the edge of the 21stcentury. We must make this a moment of opportunity, not missedopportunity.
First, we have to advance the economic strategy that hasbrought so much opportunity to so many Americans. In the comingweeks, I will insist that the House join me and the Senate inreserving the surplus until we save Social Security first. We shouldfulfill our obligation to America's children -- with smaller classsizes, modernized schools, higher standards, more Head Startopportunities, more reading help for third graders, more access tocollege.
We should strengthen the International Monetary Fundbecause our prosperity depends upon the stability of our tradingpartners in Asia and around the world. We should press forward withour reform of government by passing IRS reform to guard againstabuses and extend taxpayers' rights, and through bipartisan campaignfinance reform.
And we must further strengthen families and communitiesacross our country with a juvenile crime bill that uses prosecutorsand probation officers to crack down on gangs, guns, and drugs, andbars violent juveniles from buying guns for life; with comprehensivetobacco legislation and with the Patient's Bill of Rights that sayscritical medical decisions can only be made by doctors, not insurancecompany accountants.
There is much to do in these remaining 38 days.Congress has a choice to make in writing this chapter of our history.It can choose partisanship, or it can choose progress. Congress mustdecide.
I stand ready to work with lawmakers of good faith inboth parties, as I have for five and a half years, to move our nationforward. And I have a continuing obligation to act -- to use theauthority of the presidency and the persuasive power of the podium toadvance America's interest at home and abroad. Nowhere is that needgreater than our mission to provide quality health care for everyAmerican, especially the elderly.
Last year's bipartisan balanced budget agreement gaveseniors and people with disabilities new help to pay their Medicarepremiums. This was the right thing to do. Yet a new study releasedtoday by Mr. Pollack's Families USA shows that over 3 million of thehardest-pressed Medicare beneficiaries still do not receive the helpto which they are due.
I want to thank Ron Pollack for his continuing excellentwork for accessible and quality care for all Americans, and forcontinuing to point out the problems in achieving that goal.
Today I am launching a national effort to educate everysingle Medicare recipient about this opportunity -- using the mail,Medicare and Social Security notices, case workers, field offices,working with state governments, and using the Internet. Through thiseffort hundreds of thousands of older and disabled low-incomeAmericans will receive more affordable health care without any newcongressional action. This is a duty we owe our parents and ourfellow citizens, and we should honor it. It's the right thing to do.
I want to thank Secretary Shalala and Mr. Apfel forworking out the details of this outreach. We look forward to signingup people and getting them on the Medicare rolls as quickly aspossible.
This is a moment of opportunity. We have to use itdecisively. We can do so, and if we do we will strengthen ournation. Again I say, we have to choose progress over partisanship. Thank you.
Q Speaker Gingrich said that he may bring up fasttrack legislation again this fall. Are you planning an aggressivepush for fast track this year?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know that anything has changedin terms of the votes. I would like to see the Africa Trade bill,which did pass the House, and the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which Iunderstand has been modified in the Senate, so it may pass, pass.You know I'm strongly for fast track, but if there is no reason tobelieve we can pass it, it would be a mistake to keep the otherinitiatives from passing which would do a great deal of good for theUnited States and for the countries in our neighborhood and inAfrica.
Q Mr. President, in 12 states big HMOs have droppedMedicaid coverage altogether. In at least 12 states, major HMOs havedropped Medicaid --
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I read that story in the morningpaper, and I was very concerned about it. And before I came outhere, I talked to Secretary Shalala about it. She says that in somestates, there is contrary evidence, so I have asked her to look atall 50 states, get all the facts, report back to me as soon aspossible, and then we'll let you know what we find out as quickly aswe can. It was a very disturbing story, but we want to get all thefacts, and then we'll make them available to you.
Q Your thoughts on Roy Rogers?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I would like to say something aboutRoy Rogers because he was, as you know, most prominent in mychildhood. I think it was from the mid-'40s to the mid-'50s when hewas the number one Western star. And like most people my age, I grewup on Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Trigger, and Gabby Hayes. I reallyappreciate what he stood for, the movies he made, and the kind ofvalues they embodied, and the good-natured spirit that he exhibitedall the way up until his last interviews, not so very long ago.
And my thoughts are with his family and his manyfriends, but today there will be a lot of sad and grateful Americans,especially of my generation, because of his career.