[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book II)]
[August 21, 1993]
[Pages 1398-1400]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
August 21, 1993

    Good morning. In the past few weeks, our Nation has taken a bold 
first step toward a new economic destiny. The economic program I signed 
into law earlier this month reduces the deficit and embraces the core 
values of America: the values of the middle class, of small business, of 
rewarding hard work and giving the next generation as bright a future as 
our parents gave to us. This was a crucial first step in strengthening 
the quality of life all across our Nation.
    With the passage of the economic plan, Americans will be assured of 
lower deficits, lower interest rates, and real economic growth rooted in 
incentives for small and new businesses and new investment incentives 
which bring better jobs, better wages, and new economic opportunities.
    Now we must take the next step. We must reform our health care 
system so that you and every American will be assured not only of 
economic security but the security of knowing that health care is always 
there for you. We also have to reform health care because we're spending 
tens of billions of dollars on things that do not make us healthier but 
instead endanger our economy further.
    Unless we provide quality and affordable health care, we can't bring 
this Federal deficit down to zero and balance the budget. We can't 
guarantee quality health care to many U.S. citizens. We can't guarantee 
health for U.S. businesses who are spending too much on health care 
today. And we can't guarantee that millions of workers won't be deprived 
of their wage increases because they'll have to pay more and more and 
more every year for the same or less health coverage.
    To be sure, a lot is right with the American health care system. Our 
hospitals, doctors and nurses, our technology and research make us the 
envy of the world, and we intend to stay that way. But at the same time, 
there's clearly a lot wrong. Health care costs are draining the Nation's 
coffers and robbing too many Americans of the security they need and 
deserve. Millions of our friends and neighbors have lost their health 
coverage simply because they switched jobs, moved to a different city, 
or got sick. Many of them can't change jobs because someone in their 
family has been sick, and they're locked into the health coverage they 
have or none at all.
    Now we have an historic opportunity to change all that. Next month 
I'll outline a health care plan to Congress that offers hope for all 
Americans who want to work and take responsibility and create 
opportunities for themselves and their children. The plan will be built 
on three guiding principles: security, savings, and simplicity.
    First, it will guarantee all Americans the security of knowing they 
won't lose their health coverage even if they switch jobs, lose a job, 
get sick, have a family member who gets sick, move to a new city, or 
start a small business.
    Second, the plan will generate savings by in-

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troducing real competition into the health care market. We'll limit the 
growth of expensive premiums and costs that can't be justified, such as 
drugs made in America costing 3 times more here in the United States 
than they do overseas. We'll root out fraud and abuse which now eat up 
to 10 percent of every health care dollar. And we'll reform a 
malpractice system that drives up prices for doctors and patients. And 
we'll make it more rewarding for doctors to practice preventive medicine 
than to perform expensive tests and procedures that aren't necessary.

    Third, the plan will be simpler for consumers and health care 
providers. We spend about 10 cents on the dollar more for administrative 
and paperwork costs than any other nation in the world. That's probably 
why health care takes up more than 14 percent of our income while no 
other country, except Canada, spends over 9 percent, and they're just a 
little over that.

    Only the United States has 1,500 separate health insurance companies 
writing thousands of different policies, requiring millions of people to 
keep up with the paperwork in doctors' offices, in hospitals, in the 
insurance companies themselves. We're going to have one basic insurance 
form instead of thousands. We'll reduce nightmarish paperwork that now 
requires 4 times as many clerical workers to be hired as new health care 
providers, just to keep up with the mountains of redtape.

    Reforming our health care system is not only the best way to reduce 
costs, rein in our Federal deficit, and provide security for our 
citizens, it's also good for our economy. This plan will boost the 
private sector by generating savings for businesses which they can use 
to create jobs and by creating jobs in health care, not for more 
paperwork but to provide new, innovative ways to people to stay healthy 
or be well.

    When we talk about health care reform, we mean giving businesses who 
don't currently provide insurance plenty of time to phase-in coverage 
for their employees. We mean asking those employees to pay something for 
their own health insurance so they'll know that it doesn't come free. We 
mean establishing a system that gives small businesses lower insurance 
rates instead of pricing them out of the market. We mean providing the 
very smallest firms and the lowest wage firms with some modest subsidies 
to help them cover the costs of insuring their workers. And we mean 
allowing the self-employed a 100-percent deduction for their health care 

    With health care reform, our economy will be more productive; our 
companies will be more competitive; our workers will be more secure in 
their jobs and, therefore, more productive in them; and our families 
will be more confident about their future. If we want to really 
straighten out this economy and live more prosperous lives, we have to 
improve the Nation's health care system.

    And we know something else: The price of doing nothing about health 
care is far too high. Doing nothing means more and more Americans losing 
their coverage. Doing nothing means allowing insurers to dictate prices, 
charging whatever they want to whomever they want. Doing nothing means 
continuing a system in which anonymous bureaucrats peer into every 
hospital and doctors' offices and second-guess medical decisions. Doing 
nothing means no wage increases for millions of workers, not to mention 
the most important thing of all: more fear, anxiety, and insecurity on 
the part of our citizens. And amazingly, doing nothing is the most 
expensive thing of all. It means about 100,000 Americans a month will 
join the nearly 40 million already without health insurance, and we will 
continue to spend much, much more of our income on health care than any 
other people on Earth.

    As we work for reform in the months ahead, we can't let this health 
care issue fall victim to partisan bickering. This is not a Democratic 
challenge, not a Republican challenge, not a liberal or a conservative 
challenge; it's an American challenge we must all face together.

    I am pledged to work with all who have a commitment to change, 
Republicans as well as Democrats in the Congress, with the Governors and 
others throughout the country, with doctors and nurses and hospitals and 
other health care providers, with responsible drug companies who've 
committed to help keep their costs within inflation and are already 
giving critically needed drugs to public health clinics across the 

    These are the kinds of things we need more of. This is a cause in 
which all Americans must enlist, a cause in which special interest must 
put aside a broken system and become a lobby for the American people and 
a lobby for the

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American future. We've got to roll up our sleeves, make the tough 
decisions now, and get on with this. With your help, I know we can 
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 11:30 a.m. on August 19 in the 
Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on August