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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 16, 1993


"As the former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Eisenhower Administration, I would like to express my strong support for President Clinton's health care reform proposal. The proposal he is about to present to the nation is comprehensive, thoughtful, workable and fair - - a proposal that will lead us on the road to a nation where health security with quality care is guaranteed for all Americans and health care costs are brought under control.

I have worked for health care reform for the better part of four decades, and I have seen other health care reform efforts start with high hopes and fail. But I believe this is different. The President has presented us with a historic opportunity, and we must seize the moment. Let us get a plan on the books and begin to learn from experience, instead of engaging in endless rhetoric.

As a former U.S. Commissioner of Aging, I am particularly enthusiastic about the plan: because this proposal will mean a stregthened Medicare program -- providing greater security and expanded benefits for older Americans.

Under the President's proposal, older Americans will receive all the benefits they do today. In addition, Medicare will be expanded to cover prescription drug benefits, and there will be a new long-term care program to cover home- and community-based care. Nearly all Americans will still have to pay only 25% of the total cost of the Part B benefits they receive -- including the new drug benefit. Any increase in the premium will be consistent with the increase in benefits. Only the wealthiest Americans -- those people earning $100,000 or more -- will pay the full actuarial value of the benefits they receive. Finally, Medicare funds now being wasted to cover fraud and overcharges will be used to pay for these new benefits.

Over the next several months, there will be likely many attempts by those opposed to reform to scare Americans about the effect of the President's plan.

But older Americans should know that President Clinton's proposal will mean greater security and expanded benefits. And I hope that older Americans -- and Americans of all ages -- will join in getting this plan on the books."

Dr. Flemming was Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare from 1958 through 1961. He was Chair of the White House Conference on Aging in 1971 and U.S. Commissioner on Aging at HEW from 1973 to 1978. Currently, he is Chair of the National Citizens' Board of Inquiry into Health in America, Co-Chair of Save our Security Coalition.