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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 27, 1993

Letter from the President

October 1993

My Fellow Americans:

Every American must have the security of comprehensive health benefits that can never be taken away. That is what the Health Security Act is all about.

Americans are blessed with the world's finest doctors and nurses, the best hospitals, the most advanced medical technology, and the most promising research on the face of the earth. We cherish -- and we will never surrender -- our right to choose who treats us and how we get our care.

But today our health care system is badly broken.

Insurance has become a contest of finding only the healthiest people to cover. Millions of Americans are just a pink slip away from losing their health coverage, one serious illness away from losing their savings. Millions more are locked into jobs for fear of losing their benefits. And small business owners throughout our nation want to provide health care for their employees and families but can't get it or can't afford it.

Next year we will spend more than one trillion dollars on health care -- and still leave 37 million Americans without health insurance, and 25 million more with inadequate coverage. Skyrocketing health care costs have forced workers to trade wage increases to maintain health benefits and crippled our nation's manufacturers in global competition. And every month that passes without health care reform adds billions to our national deficit.

In short, all the things that are wrong with our health care system threaten everything that's right. To preserve what's right and fix what's wrong, we must get the system under control -- and put people first.

The Health Security Act is grounded in six basic principles: security, simplicity, savings, quality, choice and responsibility.

Security means providing every American with comprehensive health benefits that can never be taken away. We must -- and we will -- outlaw insurance company practices that discriminate against consumers and small businesses, and make care available to all Americans, no matter where they live or how old or sick they are.

Simplicity means reducing the paperwork that frustrates all of us and wastes countless hours and billions of dollars. We must cut through the red tape and free doctors and nurses to return to what they do best -- care for patients.

Achieving savings starts with giving groups of consumers and small businesses the same buying clout as large employers to bargain for fair prices. Communities, companies and health plans across the nation are learning to discipline health costs. We must follow their lead.

Quality means improving what is already the highest quality care in the world. It means a new emphasis on keeping us healthy rather than waiting until we get sick, and giving consumers and providers the information they need to judge quality for themselves.

Choice means preserving our right to choose our doctors and increasing our choice of health plans. We must protect the doctor-patient relationship that lies at the heart of good health care.

Responsibility starts with those who profit from our current system but carries on to each and every one of us. It means every employer and employee must contribute something to the cost of health care, even if that contribution is small.

These principles are the guiding stars that we will follow on our journey toward health care reform. I am convinced that if we agree on these basic values, we can preserve all that is right with American health care, and fix what is wrong.

Our history -- the history of challenges met, and obstacles overcome -- teaches us that we can succeed. After decades of false starts, we must find the courage to change. And when our work is done -- when we provide every American with true health security -- we will know that we have answered the call of history and met the challenge of our time.