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 Home > News & Policies > October 2001

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 14, 2001

President Discusses Medicare to the American Society of Anesthesiologists
Videotaped Remarks

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'm honored to have this opportunity to speak to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

During the past few days, our nation has experienced one of the darkest moments in our history. Yet, even in the midst of this tragedy, the eternal lights of America's goodness and greatness have shown through. We've seen it in the countless Americans who gave blood or donated money. We've seen it in the tales of heroic police officers and firemen who went into the World Trade Centers to save lives. And we've seen it in the simple, yet profound, gestures of love and patriotism from every part of the American family.

It's been said that public service is not limited to public office. And the events of the past few days have shown how true that is. I want to thank all of you in the American Society of Anesthesiologists for doing your part during the difficult past few days. Whether it was the doctors who worked over-time to help victims in New York and Washington, or those who gave money and offered prayers, our nation is blessed by so many dedicated health care professionals.

But the business of our nation goes forward. America faces many challenges, including those in health care. Let me be clear about this -- we will win the war on terrorism, and we will also continue to fight important battles at home. And that means my administration remains committed to improving the quality of health care for all Americans and improving Medicare for all seniors.

My administration remains committed to passing a real patients' bill of rights. With your help, we'll pass a bill that puts the care of patients in the hands of doctors, not trial lawyers. I will continue to support common sense reforms that enhance the rights of the patient without unnecessarily raising the cost of health care and increasing the number of uninsured. And I believe this can be done.

The compromise Congressman Norwood and I forged this summer and passed by the House of Representatives represents the best and most real solution. Simply put, it achieves both the goals of improving the quality of health without unnecessarily raising health care costs.

And for our seniors, we're committed to reforming Medicare. For too long, too many doctors and too many Medicare patients have had to fight not only illness, but also bureaucracy. My goal in reforming Medicare is to make it less bureaucratic and more efficient.

Here are the main principles for strengthening and improving Medicare: Nobody on Medicare will see any change in Medicare unless he or she wants it. There will be new Medicare choices, and all of these new choices will offer prescription drugs.

Medicare plans will compete by offering better service and lower premiums. Medicare will respond better to the needs of seniors, especially low-income seniors and seniors with high medical bills. And Medicare modernization will strengthen the program's long-term financial security.

These are principles which will strengthen one of our nation's most sacred obligations, the health of our senior citizens. We will protect seniors now, offering exciting new services and more choices to seniors in the future, and guarantee prescription drug coverage. And we will do it without overtaxing our children and our grandchildren.

Medicine is constantly improving. Medicare must keep pace. That's my administration's commitment today, and its exciting new vision for health care in America.

Again, thank you all for allowing me to join you. And thanks for all you are doing to make America great. God bless you all. And may God bless America.