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[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page i-ii]
Monday, April 19, 1999
Volume 35--Number 15
Pages 623-670

[[Page i]]

Weekly Compilation of



[[Page ii]]

Addresses and Remarks

    Balkan situation--638
    California, American Society of Newspaper Editors in San Francisco--
    Congressional leaders, meeting--638
    Kick Butts Day, radio remarks--642
    Louisiana, community at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City--
        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 

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


    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.


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[[Page 623]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[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 
    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 
    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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