REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
TO THE FAMILIES USA "HEALTH WATCH" EVENT
August 16, l994
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for gathering here today. I want to thank particularly the carpenters, who have lent this site and also lent their strong support to health care reform. I want to thank CWA, who has also been there on the front lines fighting for reform. I want to thank Families USA and its leader Ron Pollack, and particularly Senator Harry Reid, who's been one of the stalwart voices on behalf of health care reform. Thanks all of you for what you are doing.
You know, we stand here in a rainy day, and we can see the numbers ticking away behind us. We've already heard the stories from three representative Americans about what happens when you are not guaranteed health care coverage. And it really is a question of security. Can you change jobs? Are you able to take a new opportunity? What happens when someone does get sick, and the fine print in the insurance policy doesn't mean what you thought it would? These three Americans, plus the ones standing behind me, and literally millions and millions more throughout America, know what it means every day to live on the edge of personal security. And these more than 500,000 Americans who have lost their health insurance just since last Tuesday when the Senate began debating, they would all have a story to tell as well.
What we really need to focus on are the stories behind those numbers, people who are working hard, doing all they can, and still not being guaranteed health insurance. Of the more than 500,000 Americans who have now lost their insurance since last week, more than 150,000 of them are children under the age of 18.
They are the children of families like Kathleen Rogers (phonetic), who go to school every day, who go out and play in the neighborhood, who pursue sports activities. But their parents live in fear that their child may come down with an injury or an illness that would not only devastate their health but devastate the family financially.
Those more than 150,000 children under the age of 18, they did not ask to be uninsured. They did not buy any health insurance. They have parents who lost their health insurance for one of the many millions of reasons why that happens. Real reform will enable all children to have health coverage and every parent to have the security that comes from knowing that their children will be taken care of in the event of illness or injury. I feel the rain beginning to come down. Some of you are not in a good position to get wet. I don't want anybody getting sick at a health care reform rally. (Laughter.) Heaven forbid. Especially somebody who is uninsured, I don't want getting sick.
But I do want all of us to remember that as this debate goes on, these numbers will continue to increase. The number of the uninsured will continue to grow. But even beyond that, the number of the insured, who cannot be guaranteed they will be taken care of, will also continue not only to grow, but, really, to eat away at our conscience as a country.
And above all else, let's remember the children, the children who today are uninsured, the children who tomorrow will be uninsured. Those children deserve better. Let's give them real health care reform now. Thank you.
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