T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E


Help Site Map Text Only

The Briefing Room
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Camp David, Maryland)

For Immediate Release                                    July 12, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Thirty-five years ago this month, President Johnson enacted the Medicare
program into law.  The program has proven to be a remarkable success,
providing basic health care services to tens of millions of older Americans
and people with disabilities.  Since its enactment, there has been a
decrease of over 60 percent in elderly poverty and Americans over 65 now
have the highest life expectancy of seniors anywhere in the world.

I am particularly proud of my Administration?s stewardship of the Medicare
program. When I came into office, Medicare was projected to become
insolvent in 1999.  Our success in keeping overall and health care
inflation low, combating fraud, waste, and abuse, and making the Medicare
program more competitive and efficient has resulted in the strongest
Medicare Trust Fund solvency in a quarter century.  We have extended the
life of the Trust Fund to 2025 and Medicare premiums are nearly 20 percent
lower today than projected in 1993.  We have also modernized the program to
cover preventive services and coverage for clinical trials.

We need to build on our successful management of the Medicare program and
prepare it for the inevitable health and demographic challenges it faces in
the 21st century.  No one would create a Medicare program today without a
prescription drug benefit.  With the announcement of the completion of the
human genome and the revolutionary impact it will have on the diagnosis,
prevention, and treatment of most, if not all, human disease, the
importance of pharmaceuticals as a clinical tool will only increase.

That is why I have proposed a comprehensive plan that would take the
Medicare Trust Fund off-budget extend the life of the Trust Fund to at
least 2030, make the program more efficient, provide for increased health
care provider payments, and modernize it to include a long overdue Medicare
prescription-drug benefit option.  This benefit would be available and
affordable to all beneficiaries, no matter where they live or how sick they

I am pleased that there is growing momentum on Capitol Hill to provide a
real Medicare prescription drug benefit, not a flawed insurance model.
Because we have managed the program so efficiently, due to the leadership
of the longest serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in history -
Donna Shalala - we can use our success in reducing the cost of the program
and reinvest the savings to help finance a meaningful Medicare prescription
drug benefit.  I urge the Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion
to meet the challenges this program faces, and to ensure that it continues
to provide the critically important insurance coverage for the 39 million
seniors and people with disabilities the program serves.


President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement