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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 27, 1993

Foreword -- Hillary Rodham Clinton

Together, we stand at a unique moment in history. In the coming months, we have an opportunity to accomplish what our nation has never done before: provide health security to every American - health care that can never be taken away.

The debate over health care reform that will unfold over the next several months touches all of our lives and the lives of our children, our parents and generations to come. Because this issue is so critical to all of our futures, it is important that all of us have the opportunity to understand the complex issues and difficult choices that lie behind the design of any comprehensive reform effort.

That is why we have written this book - to lay out the dimensions of the crisis that confronts our nation, explain its elements and complexities, and state the case for comprehensive reform as proposed in the Health Security Act.

Book after book has been written about the intricacies of the health care system and the difficulties of addressing these problems. But most of them have not been written for people like you and me - people who may not be experts in health care policy but need and want to understand an issue so vital to our nation and our future.

I invite each and every American to read this book, to listen to the stories told here, to think about the issues and grapple with this complex - but solvable - problem. Then I invite every American to join in the debate.

Every month, two million Americans lose their insurance for some period of time. Every day, thousands of Americans discover that, despite years of working hard and paying for health insurance, they are no longer covered. Every hour, hundreds who need care walk into an emergency room because it is the only place they can go. And business owners, large and small, struggle to stay afloat while providing coverage for their families and employees.

Each time someone loses health coverage or is denied insurance, their experience becomes another chapter in a growing national tragedy. Anxiety and fear about the cost of health care affect tens of millions of Americans - those with health insurance and those without. Even those with the very best benefits worry that their insurance might not be there tomorrow or may no longer be affordable.

Over the past months, I have had the extraordinary opportunity of listening to thousands of Americans talk about health care. I've sat in living rooms talking to farm families. I've stood on loading docks talking to people who have worked for 10, 15, and even 20 years without insurance. I've visited hospitals, talking to doctors and nurses. I have learned firsthand about the tragedies of hard-working families who simply cannot get the health care they deserve.

I have read letter after letter of the more than 800,000 we have received at the White House from people all over our nation who took the time to sit down and share their concerns about health care. I have been moved by stories of parents who cannot afford a prescription for a child who is sick and hurting, of families barely hanging on financially and emotionally because of a health care crisis, of people trying to start a new business suffocated by skyrocketing insurance costs, of older Americans forced to choose between food and medicine, and of young people just leaving school unable to afford insurance.

I have carried their stories in my mind as we worked long and hard to devise solid answers to tough questions. The President's Health Security Act is a product of all the people who took the time to share their ideas, their research, and their personal experiences with us. And, as we move forward in this great national discussion, we must focus on these people, their health care, and their peace of mind - not solely on theories or statistics.

The concerns that were expressed again and again - from those who need care and those who give care - convinced me of one point: although America can still proudly boast the world's finest health professionals and astounding medical advances, our health care system is broken. If we go on without change, the consequences will be devastating for millions of Americans and disastrous for the nation in human and economic terms.

As a mother, I can understand the feeling of helplessness that must come when a parent cannot afford a vaccination or well-child exam. As a wife, I can imagine the fear that grips a couple whose health insurance vanishes because of a lost job, a layoff or an unexpected illness. As a sister, I can see the inequities and inconsistencies of a health care system that offers widely varying coverage, depending on where a family member lives or works. As a daughter, I can appreciate the suffering that comes when a parent's treatment is determined as much by bureaucratic rules and regulations as by doctors' expertise. And as a woman who has spent many years in the workforce, I can empathize with those who labor for a lifetime and still cannot be assured they will always have health coverage.

As an American citizen concerned about the health of our nation, I stand with you as we confront this challenge that touches all of us. We can and will achieve lasting, meaningful change.