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IMPROVING THE HEALTH OF AMERICAN FAMILIES
Although medical technology is ever-changing, the values of your profession -- the Hippocratic Oath -- are everlasting. We face a choice, as we walk together into the future, whether to widen the circle of access and extend the opportunity of new treatments to all American families. If we keep in mind the values you were taught and continue to uphold, then we will have a healthier America, and a stronger America, in the 21st century.
- President Bill Clinton
March 9, 1998
Today, President Clinton is the first President to address the American Medical Association (AMA) in 15 years. In his remarks he calls on Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights, comprehensive tobacco legislation to reduce teen tobacco use, and a proposal to allow hundreds of thousands of Americans ages 55 to 65 to buy into Medicare.
Urging Congress To Pass Legislation Guaranteeing A Patients' Bill Of Rights. The nation's health care system is undergoing significant change. Many Americans worry that these changes may reduce their health care options and lower the standards of care. A Patients' Bill of Rights would provide Americans much needed protections, including:
Releasing A New Report Underscoring The Bipartisan Support For The Patients' Bill Of Rights. In today's event the President releases a report showing that 44 states -- including 28 states with Republican governors -- have enacted at least one of the provisions in the Patients' Bill of Rights. To ensure that all health plans serving Americans provide the protections envisioned by the Quality Commission, we must pass and enact bipartisan Federal legislation.
- Guaranteed access to needed health care providers to ensure that patients are provided appropriate high quality care;
- Access to emergency services when and where the need arises;
- Confidentiality of medical records to ensure that individually identifiable medical information is not disseminated and to provide consumers the right to access and amend their own medical records; and,
- Grievance and appeals processes for consumers to resolve their differences with their health plans and health care providers.
Calling On Congress To pass Comprehensive Tobacco Legislation. A recent study concluded that the Administration's proposal to increase the price of cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, coupled with proposed sales and advertising restrictions, would keep up to 1.9 million Americans from smoking 2003, sparing as many as 1 million of today's young people from premature deaths resulting from smoking-related diseases. The President is proposing tobacco legislation that includes five key principles:
Urging Congress To Pass His Targeted Proposal To Expand Adequate, Affordable Health Coverage. The President has a carefully-targeted, fiscally-responsible proposal that would allow hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Americans to gain access to more affordable health care coverage by: allowing Americans ages 62 to 65 to buy into the Medicare program; allowing displaced workers age 55 and over a similar buy-in option; and allowing Americans 55 and over who have lost their retiree health benefits to buy into their former employers' health plan.
- A comprehensive plan to reduce youth smoking;
- Full authority of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products;
- Changes in how the tobacco industry does business, including an end to marketing and promotion to children;
- Progress towards other public goals, including a reduction of secondhand smoke; promotion of cessation programs; public health research; and the strengthening of international efforts to control tobacco;
- Protection for tobacco farmers and their communities.
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