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pd19ap99 Remarks on the Universal Savings Accounts Initiative...
<DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page i-ii] Monday, April 19, 1999 Volume 35--Number 15 Pages 623-670 Contents [[Page i]] Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents [[Page ii]] Addresses and Remarks Balkan situation--638 California, American Society of Newspaper Editors in San Francisco-- 643 Congressional leaders, meeting--638 Kick Butts Day, radio remarks--642 Louisiana, community at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City-- 628 Michigan Humanitarian relief organizations in Roseville--664 Majority 2000 luncheon in Dearborn--657 Millennium Evening at the White House, seventh--631 Pennsylvania, Patients' Bill of Rights in Philadelphia--623 Radio address--626 Universal Savings Accounts initiative--640 Communications to Federal Agencies Carbon dioxide emissions, memorandum--654 Executive Orders Designation of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia/Montenegro), Albania, the Airspace Above, and Adjacent Waters as a Combat Zone--639 Interviews With the News Media Exchange with reporters in the Rose Garden--638 Joint Statements Joint U.S.-China Statement--639 President Bill Clinton and Premier Zhu Rongji--627 Meetings With Foreign Leaders China, Premier Zhu--627 Proclamations Jewish Heritage Week--643 National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week--667 National Park Week--656 National Volunteer Week--667 Statements by the President Congressional action on child care legislation--655 Easter, observance of Orthodox--627 House action on the Republicans' budget proposal--642 Supplementary Materials Acts approved by the President--670 Checklist of White House press releases--670 Digest of other White House announcements--668 Nominations submitted to the Senate--669 Editor's Note: The President was in Detroit, MI, on April 16, the closing date of this issue. Releases and announcements issued by the Office of the Press Secretary but not received in time for inclusion in this issue will be printed next week. WEEKLY COMPILATION OF ------------------------------ PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS Published every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408, the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents contains statements, messages, and other Presidential materials released by the White House during the preceding week. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is published pursuant to the authority contained in the Federal Register Act (49 Stat. 500, as amended; 44 U.S.C. Ch. 15), under regulations prescribed by the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register, approved by the President (37 FR 23607; 1 CFR Part 10). Distribution is made only by the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents will be furnished by mail to domestic subscribers for $80.00 per year ($137.00 for mailing first class) and to foreign subscribers for $93.75 per year, payable to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. The charge for a single copy is $3.00 ($3.75 for foreign mailing). There are no restrictions on the republication of material appearing in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. [[Page 623]] <DOC> [Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents] [frwais.access.gpo.gov] [Page 623-626] Monday, April 19, 1999 Volume 35--Number 15 Pages 623-670 Week Ending Friday, April 16, 1999 Remarks on the Patients' Bill of Rights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania April 9, 1999 Thank you, Joan, for making the trip up here and for your very, very moving account of your experience. I want to thank all of you who have come here today--John Sweeney, and Congressmen Brady, Borski, and Fattah; Congresswoman DeLauro; my good friend Congressman Dingell who flew up with me this morning; and Congressman Dave Bonior. I'd like to thank the other Members of Congress who are here: Congressmen Ron Klink and Joe Hoeffel, from Pennsylvania; Congressmen Donald Payne and Rob Andrews from New Jersey; Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney, Carolyn McCarthy, Congressman Joe Crowley from New York; Congressman Ted Strickland from Ohio. That's a pretty impressive group, and we had Congressman Pallone here a little earlier, from New Jersey. I thank them all. I also want to thank Judy Lichtman from the National Partnership for Women and Families; Ron Pollack and Families USA; Fran Visco and the National Breast Cancer Coalition; Beverly Malone and the American Nurses Association. And there are 150 other provider, consumer, and patient organizations, all of them working for the Patients' Bill of Rights. I thank them all. That's very, very impressive. I want to thank the local Pennsylvania leaders who are here: Senator Schwartz; Senator Fumo; former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies- Mezvinsky; Representative Bill DeWeese, the Democratic House leader. And I think the city council president is here, Anna Verna, and other members of the Philadelphia City Council. I thank them all for coming. But I want to say a special word of congratulations to the mayor. This is the last year of his term. You know, I was a Governor for a dozen years, and I loved every day of it. And in the late 1970's and early 1980's, most of the new ideas for what we should be doing as a people were coming out of the Governors' mansions of the country. In the 1990's, most of the new ideas and most of the innovations have come out of the mayors' offices. There's not a better mayor in America than Ed Rendell, and I'm very proud of him. I also want you to know that he has worried me to death on a number of issues for Philadelphia--[laughter]-- but none more than the Philadelphia Navy Yard. And I am so glad we got that worked out, so that the city can be--[applause]---- And you know, I've been working on this Patients' Bill of Rights for a long time. And I've listened to all the Members of Congress speak, to my good friend John Sweeney, to the mayor, and to Joan, and--did you watch the Oscars? You know, where Benigni, that great Italian actor says, the second time they called him up, he said, ``This is a terrible mistake. I used up all my English!'' [Laughter] They used up all my English! [Laughter] They have said everything that needs to be said. But I would like to make a couple of points, to hammer home what this is about and why we're here. First of all, we're here in Philadelphia, as has been said, not only because it is the home of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, it was also, interestingly enough, the home of the very first petition drive. Back in 1701, the citizens of Philadelphia launched what I think was the first successful petition drive in the New World, when they asserted and won the full and unfettered right to practice whatever religion they chose. Philadelphia, thanks to Ben Franklin, was the home of America's first hospital, later America's first medical school and first nursing school, still one of the most important medical centers not only in the United States but in the world. [[Page 624]] Now, this petition, as Rosa DeLauro said when she gave you the right address, is a little bit more modern. But we have to do it. And I'd like to say why and what the larger stakes are and go back over this one more time. Why are we having to do this petition? I mean, this is a bill supported by over 70 percent of the American people and by almost equal margins, in every research document, almost equal margins, by Republicans and Democrats and independents. As a matter of fact, it is virtually the only issue that I have worked on in the last 5 years where there is almost no difference by party in levels of support, except in Washington, DC. Now, why is that? That's because the people who are against it, basically the large HMO's, the insurers, have got the ear of the congressional majority, and they have a lot of political influence. And how Washington works, for good or ill, is that--people say, ``Well, who cares if there are a lot of people for it, this is not very high up on their scale. The economy's doing fine. Most people are all right. There aren't all that many stories like Joan's. We'll let this slide.'' Now, that's what's going on here. We need this petition drive because unless there is a clear, unambiguous signal from the people of the United States not just that we want this, not just that we need this, not just that we believe in this--the organized forces of the status quo will do nothing. They will say, ``Oh, well, the President went to Philadelphia, and he brought all the Congress Members here. And there were 100 Members of Congress around the country, but they probably can't break through on the evening news tonight because of Kosovo.'' That's another excuse we'll have to let this thing slide. You know, this is the kind of thing you can do when you're not running for office anymore. You can be more frank with people. [Laughter] I'm just telling you, that's what's going on. Now, I have talked about this until I am blue in the face. I have met with people like Joan, and I have heard these stories. And I want you to know that I feel a special responsibility to do this, because I don't oppose all managed care. I think managed care has done some good in this country. Health care costs were going up at 3 times the rate of inflation when I became President. It was going to bankrupt the country. We should want all organizations, including health care organizations, run as efficiently as possible. But every organization that forgets its primary purpose is doomed to fail. The primary purpose is not to deliver cheap health care; the primary purpose is to deliver quality health care as inexpensively as possible. Now, I wish we had somebody here representing the other side, standing here beside another microphone. Here's what they would say. They'd say, ``Well, Mr. President, that's very compelling, and you got a nice applause line. But the truth is there are just hard decisions, and you've got to decide whether you want to bankrupt us or not, and this Patients' Bill of Rights will bankrupt us.'' So let me make a countercase. Here's what we asked for in the bill. Number one, the right to have a specialist when you need it. That's Joan's story, right? She got the specialist, all right, after she lost her sight. I've sat with people who got the specialist after their loved one lost their life or when it was too late to do the medical procedure. Because the way these things are organized--you heard John talk about his doctor friend who got fired--if you're down the chain in the review process in one of these organizations, you just know one thing: You are never going to get in trouble for saying no. You know, put yourself in the position of a young person working for an HMO; suppose you've got a little kid; suppose you're worried about your Christmas bonus; suppose you've got to save your job. You will never get in trouble if you say no, because you say, ``Well, they can always appeal it to somebody else higher.'' So delay is one of the biggest problems here--the right to see a specialist when you need it. The right to emergency room care, wherever and whenever you need it. I know you find this hard to believe if it's never happened to you, but Philadelphia's a pretty big city, with a lot of hospitals. If you get hurt on one side of Philadelphia, and the hospital that your HMO works with is on the other side, they can go past three hospitals after you've been hit by a car. That's wrong. You [[Page 625]] know, that may not seem like a big deal unless that happens to you, but that's wrong. The right to have your doctor level with you and discuss all your treatment options. The right to a timely and independent appeals process. The right to hold your plan accountable if it causes you or a loved one harm. The right to know--this is a big deal--the right to know that you won't be forced to switch doctors in the middle of a treatment, like a pregnancy or a chemotherapy treatment. That may seem unbelievable, but a lot of employers, particularly smaller employers--to be fair to them, they have to change their providers from time to time. They're always struggling to try to get affordable coverage. All we say is, ``Okay, nobody wants to stop you from changing your providers, but if one of your employees is 7 months into a pregnancy, or another one is halfway through a chemotherapy treatment, then the provider, the new provider can't force them to change the people that are giving them the health care.'' It seems to me that this is basic human decency.
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