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January 28, 2003

President Discusses Strengthening & Improving Health Care in State of the Union

Our second goal is high quality, affordable health care for all Americans. (Applause.) The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation, with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people, medical care costs too much -- and many have no coverage at all. These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. (Applause.)

Instead, we must work toward a system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy, choose their own doctors, and seniors and low-income Americans receive the help they need. (Applause.) Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine. (Applause.)

Health care reform must begin with Medicare; Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society. (Applause.) We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America.

Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is. (Applause.) And just like you -- the members of Congress, and your staffs, and other federal employees -- all seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs. (Applause.)

My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare. Leaders of both political parties have talked for years about strengthening Medicare. I urge the members of this new Congress to act this year. (Applause.)

To improve our health care system, we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost, the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued. (Applause.) Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform. (Applause.)

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