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pd01no99 Statement on the Election of Fernando de la Rua as President...
learned is one that Americans have always known: open societies are more just and open markets create more wealth. Through the United Nations, America has access to a powerful forum where we can join with the other peoples of the world to raise awareness of these truths and to advance common interests and shared values. During the past decade, U.N. conferences have brought together nearly 50,000 people in Beijing to advance the rights and well-being of women; 47,000 in Rio de Janeiro to discuss ways to promote development while protecting the environment; and 30,000 people in Istanbul to seek solutions to urban problems. In the last year alone, we have seen abundant evidence of the ways in which the United Nations benefits America and the world. The United Nations is the primary multilateral forum to press for international human rights and lead governments to improve their relations with their neighbors and their own people. As we saw during the Kosovo conflict, and more recently with regard to East Timor, the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and mass murder can find no refuge in the United Nations and no source of comfort in its charter. It is the institution the international community turns to in pursuit of solutions to armed conflict. It is the primary vehicle for broad international cooperation in addressing the needs of refugees and of the tens of millions of people around the world who remain mired in abject poverty. The United Nations and its affiliated agencies also provide a powerful voice for upholding and furthering the development of the rule of law and standards of international commerce--rules and standards that are crucial to global and economic stability and progress. In acknowledging the far-reaching contributions of the United Nations to the international community, we must renew our commitment to work with our fellow U.N. members to advance international peace and prosperity and to champion human rights. In achieving these goals, the United Nations should make wise use of the international resources at its disposal; and the United States should meet its obligation to provide our share of these resources. By doing so, we can ensure that the United Nations will be an integral player in making the next millennium an era of unprecedented global peace, security, and prosperity. Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 24, 1999, as United Nations Day. I encourage all Americans to acquaint themselves with the activities and accomplishments of the United Nations and to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities furthering the goal of international cooperation. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred [[Page 2142]] and ninety-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-fourth. William J. Clinton [Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., October 27, 1999] Note: This proclamation was published in the Federal Register on October 28. This proclamation was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on October 24. <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 2142-2146] Monday, November 1, 1999 Volume 35--Number 43 Pages 2125-2198 Week Ending Friday, October 29, 1999 Remarks on Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage October 25, 1999 Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Callus, Ms. Kayden, for your remarkable statements. Thank you, Secretary Shalala, for your steadfast leadership on this issue. I would like to welcome a very large number of Members of the United States Congress who are here: Senator Baucus and Senator Wyden; Representatives Abercrombie, Brown, Waters, Obey, Vento, and Hoyer; and Congressman Berry. And I would like to acknowledge the important work of two that are not here, Representatives Waxman and Allen, who have been particularly interested in this issue. Death of Senator John H. Chafee Before I go into my remarks, I would like to make a statement about the passing last night of Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island. Rhode Island and America have lost a great leader and a fine human being who, in 23 years in the Senate and in his service as Secretary of the Navy, always put his concern for the American people above partisanship. When you think of the term bipartisan, you immediately think of John Chafee. Known throughout his beloved Rhode Island simply as ``the man you can trust,'' Senator Chafee was a consummate statesman and patriot. He served with valor in war and peace. I am particularly grateful for his commitment to health care, his concern for the environment, and his devotion to our children, especially his work for foster care and child care. John Chafee proved that politics can be an honorable profession. For him, civility was not simply a matter of personal manners. He believed it was essential to the preservation of our democratic system and the progress of our Nation. He embodied the decent center which has carried America from triumph to triumph for over 200 years. How we will miss him. Today our thoughts and prayers are with his wonderful wife, Ginny, their five children, and their twelve grandchildren. And again, I want to say a special personal word of appreciation on behalf of Hillary and myself for the many kindnesses John Chafee extended to us and the many opportunities we had to work together. Prescription Drug Benefits Now, last January, in the State of the Union Address, I was able to give the American people a great report on our economy and the improving condition of our society, which now has the lowest unemployment rate in 29 years, the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years, the lowest poverty rates in 20 years, the lowest crime rates in 30 years, and the first back-to- back budget surpluses in 42 years. In the State of the Union Address, I said as we approached the new century, we could look back on 100 years of Americans meeting the great challenges of the century we're about to leave--the Depression, civil rights, two World Wars, the cold war. And now, because of the good fortune we presently enjoy, we have the opportunity and the obligations to meet the great challenges that we know lie before us in the 21st century: to build one America out of our amazing diversity; to make America debt-free for the first time since 1835; to use this moment of prosperity to bring genuine economic opportunity to the people and places that have been left behind; to deal with the challenge of global warming; to meet the new security challenges of the 21st century, including the challenges of high-tech terrorism and weapons of mass destruction; to give the largest and most diverse group of children in American history a world-class education; and to meet the challenge of the aging of America. [[Page 2143]] We will double the number of people over 65 in just 30 years. There will be two people working for every one person drawing Social Security. This challenge would be truly daunting were it not for the fact that all of us, as a country, have worked so hard over the last 7 years to bring us to this moment of prosperity and to bring us to a point where we can predict long-term, consistent budget surpluses into the future which give us the means, if we have the will and vision, to deal with this challenge. No one should have to make the kind of choices Mr. Callus and Ms. Kayden spoke of in their remarks in a country that has the strongest economy on Earth. No senior should have to forgo or cut back on lifesaving medication because of the cost. Neither should any senior be forced to get on a bus to Canada where the same medicines cost so much less. Just a couple of days ago, the Vice President held up an example of one of the most popular drugs for lowering cholesterol. In Canada, 60 tablets cost $44; in New Hampshire, they cost $102, if you're lucky. I think we can do better than that. It's wrong, and we have to deal with it. We also have to deal with the fact that about three-quarters of our seniors simply don't have effective, affordable access to prescription drugs. We can afford to do something about it; we know what to do about it, and therefore, we have no excuse for inaction. This debate over Medicare is more than about politics and budgets; it's about people, real people like Mr. Callus. You heard what he said. He said he was in pretty good shape, and I think that his speech verified that. [Laughter] But giving him and Americans like him all over the country the chance to live to the fullest of their God-given abilities, not only to live as long but to live as well as they can, is an important value that we all stand for. For 34 years, Medicare has helped to achieve that value. And it has eased the financial burden on families who care for their loved ones. Before Medicare, nearly half of our seniors had no health care coverage at all. Today, Medicare is truly at a crossroads. As Secretary Shalala said, when we took office the Trust Fund was supposed to expire this year. And thanks to the good work of the Congress and the people who operate the program and the people who administer the health care of the country, we've worked together and we got the life expectancy of the Trust Fund back to 2015. We've done it by combating fraud and making Medicare more efficient and investing some more funds. But we know we have to go further because it is simply not going to be enough to stay with the status quo. This past June I gave the Congress a comprehensive and fiscally responsible plan to extend the life of Medicare to 2027, while at the same time modernizing it to keep pace with changes in our medical system and our medical needs. I proposed new innovations used now in private sector health care to keep quality high and costs lower. I said we should remove barriers to preventive tests for cancer, for diabetes, for osteoporosis, and other diseases. I said we should invest more money, not only to deal with some of the hardships caused by the savings in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 but simply because there are going to be so many more people on Medicare over the next few years. And I want to say this again, no expert who has studied this has said we can deal with the challenge of Medicare without injecting more money into the system. And finally, I called for adding a prescription drug benefit. Adding prescription drug coverage, as Secretary Shalala said, isn't just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do, medically, over the long run. Today, prescription drugs can accomplish what once could be done only through surgery, at far less pain and far less cost. We already pay for doctor and hospital benefits under Medicare, but we let many of our seniors go without prescription drugs and preventive screenings that could keep them healthy and keep them from having to undergo expensive treatment. It doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Congress has refused altogether to consider adding a prescription drug benefit, effectively rendering meaningful Medicare reform impossible this year. The Congress is joining with me to work to alleviate undue strain on hospitals, nursing homes, home [[Page 2144]] health agencies, and other providers--and that's a good thing--to alleviate some of the most severe burdens of the Balanced Budget Act. But by ignoring the need for a prescription drug benefit, the Republican leaders are squandering a golden moment, leaving more than 13 million seniors without any prescription drug coverage and millions more with inadequate coverage, unreliable at best. Now, in human terms, that means a lot. Think of the seniors on fixed incomes, like Mr. Callus, who are paying a couple of thousand dollars a year out of pocket. Think of men and women falling prey to illnesses because they can't afford proper doses of new miracle drugs that could easily keep them well. Asking them to wait for Medicare reform is like putting their lives on hold, and maybe into a lottery. It is unacceptable. It is unacceptable especially because it is so unnecessary. And I want you to know I don't intend to give up the battle until it is won. And the good news is, because I vetoed the tax bill that would have taken away all the money to fix Medicare, we can still win it. First, let's set the record straight. One of the key reasons no action was taken on prescription drugs this session was because the pharmaceutical industry spent millions of dollars on an all-out media campaign filled with flatout falsehoods. In ads featuring a fictional senior named Flo--[laughter]--the special interests say that our Medicare proposal--and I quote--``would put big Government in your medicine cabinet.'' I might point out that even though we do, thanks to the leadership of these people, have the smallest Federal Government since 1962, it's still not small enough to get in your medicine cabinet. [Laughter] It says--and I quote--``all seniors will be forced into a Government-run plan.'' The truth is, under our plan, there are no Government restrictions of any kind. Doctors would be able to prescribe any needed drug for any patient at any time, and the benefit would be purely voluntary, completely optional. If seniors want to keep their current coverage, they're perfectly free to do so. We cannot stand by and watch the pharmaceutical industry go on and distort this debate. We have to expose these deceptions and give the American people the facts. I wish they'd spend this ad money explaining why seniors have to get on the bus and go to Canada to buy drugs at less than half the price they can buy them in America, when the drugs are made in America with the benefit of the American system and American research and American tax systems. I wish they would spend their advertising money explaining that to the American people. I guess if you've got a weak case, the best thing to do is change the subject. [Laughter] But I would like for Flo to get on TV and tell me about that. I'm sure she could explain it. [Laughter] And it would be so enlightening to us. [Laughter] Meanwhile, the rest of us are going to keep on talking about expanding access to affordable prescription drugs. Another thing I don't understand is, I know they're worried that if we buy drugs in bulk the way the private sector does, that their profit per package of drugs will be smaller. But if we cover all the seniors, the volume will be so much greater, they will make more money. Do you remember when Medicare came in? All the people were saying, ``Oh, my goodness, the people providing health care are going to go broke.'' But they didn't. The pharmaceutical companies are going to do fine under this. We're not going to have the Government try to take them over. We're not going to have a big price control system. But we ought to be able to bargain to get American seniors a decent deal. And the volume, the increase in volume will more than offset the better prices that large purchases get. Besides that, old Flo's up there arguing for keeping 13 million seniors, just like her, from having any access to any drugs. Bet she wouldn't be making that ad if she had found herself in the same position. So this is really important. Look, all these issues are complicated. We're a big, grownup country; we don't have to have bogus ads out there confusing people about what the truth is. This is a matter of life or death. Everybody this man's age, who has the ability to be standing and talking and being what he was [[Page 2145]] up here today, ought to have the same chance. That's what we believe. Now, beyond dealing with the ad campaign to illustrate that the failure to add a prescription drug benefit has actual consequences, I am going to gather clear and indisputable evidence of what this failure costs in physical and financial terms. Today I'm directing Secretary Shalala to produce a sweeping study--the first of its kind--to examine prescription drug costs in America. In 90 days she will present me with an analysis of what the most commonly prescribed drugs cost for those with and without coverage to help assess whether people without coverage are paying too much. The analysis will also report on trends in drug spending by age and by income to help us document the increasing toll high drug costs are taking on our seniors, on people with disabilities, and on their families. Combined with a State-by-State analysis on our seniors' prescription drug needs, which I've already ordered, the new cost study should help to lay the foundation for a more informed debate in the coming year. Finally, as part of the plan to safeguard the Social Security surplus, tomorrow I will send to Congress legislation that would reserve a third of the non-Social Security surplus--the non-Social Security
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