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Public Papers - 1992

Radio Address to the Nation on Health Care Reform

1992-07-03

Today, I'm asking all Americans to help me break a logjam holding up reform of our health care system. Health care in our country is too expensive, too complicated. And too many times, the system is downright unfair. I've proposed comprehensive reforms, including four pieces of legislation now waiting in Congress' in-box. Americans could begin enjoying the benefits of reform right away if only Congress would act.

Let me tell you about our plan, including my legislation and some initiatives by House and Senate Republicans. We would lower costs for patients and providers alike by keeping high taxes, costly litigation, and big bureaucracies off their backs. We're fighting to give self-employed Americans the same tax advantages that big corporations already have, and that is being able to take 100 percent of health insurance premiums off their income taxes.

Our legislation also would help small business and self-employed people get the same break as the big guys through new purchasing networks and broader risk pooling. That's good because it will help drive down health care costs for everyone. And House Republicans have a good idea to let both employers and employees contribute to new tax-free MediSave accounts for health care.

It's time to reform our antiquated system, move things into the electronic age. Our legislation would cut paperwork and redtape and put health insurance on a modern electronic billing system. Going to the doctor should involve no more paperwork than using a credit card. I've also asked that horse-and-buggy-era rules end and that practices for patient records and consumer health information be replaced with computerization. By the end of the decade, these two reforms alone would save Americans an estimated billion a year.

Just this week I sent Congress a bill to curb the runaway costs of medical liability. Nearly every community in this country knows gifted medical people, conscientious men and women, who no longer use their talents and training because they're afraid of being wiped out by damage suits. That's wrong. And it hurts every one of us. Everywhere I travel in this country, people tell me Americans should make more effort helping each other instead of suing each other. And that's why I'm asking Congress to pass my plan to put caps on damages and encourage settling disputes out of court.

We need medical malpractice reform now. But there's a logjam, the old-time liberal leadership in the Senate and the House stalling my reforms. While I want to curb the excessive damage awards in medical malpractice cases, too many in that Capitol Hill crowd are too beholden to the trial lawyers lobby to act in the people's interest. Where I want the freedom and the proven efficiency of the modern market to work, the old-time leadership wants Federal bureaucrats to control prices and ration services.

The biggest story of our time is the failure of socialism and all its empty promises, including nationalized health care and government price-setting. But somehow this news that shook the world hasn't seeped through the doors of the Democratic cloakrooms on Capitol Hill.

And that's why I'm asking your help. Let's get them the message. Americans deserve a better health care system. And they support the principles of my plan. Let's get our Senators and Congressmen off the dime and make them bring my plan to a vote.

Thank you for listening. And may God bless the United States of America.

Note: This address was recorded at 11:02 a.m. on July 2 in the Oval Office at the White House for broadcast after 6 a.m. on July 3.

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