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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Chicago, Illinois)
For Immediate Release                                    August 10, 2000


Today, I am pleased that a new study has been released that demonstrates that older Americans are healthier and prospering more than ever before. The findings of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics' report "Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators of Well-Being" shows that that the life expectancy for Americans has increased by more than twenty years since 1990 -- women from 51 to 79 years old and men from 48 to 74 years old -- and that the number of older Americans living in poverty has decreased by nearly 25 percent since 1959.

These trends reinforce that our efforts over the last seven years to strengthen Medicare and Social Security, while also paying down the debt, have been successful. However, there is still a tremendous amount to be done to ensure the well-being of all older Americans, which is becoming more critical as the baby-boomers approach their senior years. By 2030, one in five Americans, 70 million people, will be 65 years of age or older.

We need to prepare for the inevitable health and financial challenges that confront Medicare and Social Security. As an important first step in that direction, we should follow Vice-President Gore's suggestion to take Medicare off-budget. If we do, we will ensure that Medicare payroll taxes are only used for Medicare. We should also modernize and strengthen Medicare by making the program more competitive as well as providing for a long overdue and voluntary prescription drug benefit. I urge Congress to work this Fall across party lines to improve our seniors' health security and pass these important reforms.