[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1994, Book I)]
[January 3, 1994]
[Pages 2-4]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks on Health Care Reform and an Exchange With Reporters
January 3, 1994

    The President. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this first meeting 
of 1994 for our administration, a meeting devoted to charting our course 
this year on health care. We all look back now in American history at--
remember 1935 is the year that the American people adopted Social 
Security; 1965 is the year the American people adopted Medicare. I 

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that 1994 will go down in history as the year when, after decades and 
decades of false starts and lame excuses and being overcome by special 
interests, the American people finally, finally had health care security 
for all.
    This will be a year when we attempt to fix what's broken with our 
health care system, keep what's right, to emphasize the program that we 
outlined of guaranteed private insurance for every American, 
comprehensive benefits that can never be taken away, and a system that 
gives people who presently don't have insurance and small businesses 
greater power to choose affordable quality health insurance.
    In the days and weeks ahead, I will be asking the American people 
and the Congress to go beyond rhetoric to fact and to ask and answer 
some simple questions: Of all the available alternatives, which ones 
guarantee health security to all Americans? Of all the available 
alternatives, which ones carry the greatest promise of reducing 
bureaucracy, paperwork, and absolutely wasted billions of dollars? Of 
all the available alternatives, which ones guarantee more choices of 
health care, not only to the patients who really matter but also to the 
doctors and the health care providers? Of all the available 
alternatives, which ones guarantee the least second-guessing of the 
doctor-patient relationship? If we can have these simple questions asked 
and answered, I believe that, together, we can solve this great riddle 
which has bedeviled our country for too many years now, strengthen our 
economy, and restore a great sense of security to the American people.
    We will do this in connection with our efforts to also dramatically 
alter the education and job training systems of the country to provide 
greater economic security and our efforts to pass a comprehensive crime 
bill to provide greater personal and family and community security.
    I am looking very much forward to this year. I want to thank the 
First Lady and Secretary Shalala and Ira Magaziner for the work they 
have done on health care. I want to welcome Pat Griffin and Harold Ickes 
to our team. I'm glad that George Stephanopoulos will be taking a more 
active role in working on the health care debate in Congress.
    Let me just say one last thing in closing. I suppose every Christmas 
and New Year's gives us the opportunity to reflect on the time we've 
just spent and the time that lies ahead. But I think it is so easy for 
us to forget here that what we do affects the lives of real people and 
that what is at stake here is not some great looming political battle. 
What is at stake here is the actual living conditions of the American 
people, whether families who work hard and do their very best to do what 
they're supposed to do are going to be able to know that their children 
will always have health care, whether we are going to be able to 
maintain a health care system and still have the money that we need to 
invest in a growing and highly competitive global economy so that 
America will be strong. And if we can keep that in mind, if we can move 
beyond the rhetoric and the smoke and the process to keep in mind every 
day that real people's interests are at stake here and that America must 
not go into the 21st century without health security for all, without a 
dramatically improved system of education and training, without a new 
commitment to the security of our families and our children, I think 
we're going to be in good shape.
    And lastly, let me say I very, very much hope that this will be a 
bipartisan effort, that Democrats and Republicans will be working 
together and that we will resolve in the new year not to further a 
partisan interest but to further the interest of the people who sent us 
all here.
    Thank you very much.

Health Care Reform

    Q. Mr. President, how much are you willing to compromise on this 
plan itself, in view of the strong opposition in many quarters and, of 
course, on the Hill?
    The President. Well, I think, first of all, we are going to see a 
fleshing out of all the alternatives, something that hasn't happened 
yet. The burden has been borne almost entirely by our plan, which is 
something I was willing to do. But now we need to look at the cost of 
the status quo and the cost and the consequences of the other plans and 
do what is best.
    I have said all along what my bottom line is, that we have to have 
comprehensive benefits that can never be taken away, that we cannot go 
on being the only country in the world with an advanced economy that 
cannot figure out how to guarantee health care security to all our 
people. Now, that leaves a whole lot of room for working out the 
details. We should emphasize preventive and primary care, we ought to 
emphasize efficiencies, we ought to reduce the bureaucracy, and we ought 
to do it in a way

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that will lower the rate in which these costs have been going up. But 
the main thing we have to do is to finally solve the riddle of providing 
health care security to all Americans.

Whitewater Development Corp.

    Q. Mr. President, do you support the idea of naming a special 
prosecutor to investigate the Whitewater affair?
    The President. I have nothing to say about that. I've said we'd turn 
the records over. There is nothing else for me to say about that.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House.