For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 27, 2001
Remarks by the President
In Meeting with House Leaders
on Patients' Bill of Rights
the Cabinet Room
3:33 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: It's been my honor
to welcome members of the House of Representatives here to discuss a
very important issue, which is patients' bill of rights. We
had a good discussion about making sure that American workers and
Americans have got good and decent health care.
And there is such a bill that would provide
American workers with the right kind of protections. And
it's a bill that's been crafted in the House of Representatives, called
the Fletcher-Peterson-Johnson bill. Two of the authors are
here around the table. This piece of legislation, I am
convinced, is -- will make a big difference in people's
lives. It will protect patients.
There are some other alternatives that are
working their way -- being debated on the House and the
Senate that will run up the cost of health insurance for American
workers, and could conceivably cost millions of people their health
insurance. I can't accept that kind of legislation.
I look forward to signing a bill such as the
one that we've discussed here, a good piece of legislation that will
make sense for the American workers. I'll be glad to answer
some questions. Sondra.
Q Sir, do you think the
Democrats are playing politics here and angling for a veto, looking
ahead to the 2002 elections?
THE PRESIDENT: I
don't. I think the Democrats are hopefully trying to come up
with a good piece of legislation. I know the Republicans
are. We had that kind of discussion. There seems to be a
desire on the parts of people in Washington to get a good bill
done. It's certainly my desire.
But I also think the American people will
respect a President who stands on principle. And I've
articulated the principles that I think are important for a piece of
legislation. And the most important principle is that we
don't have a piece of legislation that hurts the working people, that
causes them not to have health care insurance, because health care
insurance is more -- will make it much more likely that the worker and
their families are able to be treated well.
Now, I realize there are some complaints with
HMOs. I signed legislation in Texas that dealt with those
complaints. I look forward to signing legislation here that
does just that. And the bill we discussed around this table
is a piece of legislation that I will sign.
Q Mr. President, you
issued an order today on Macedonia. Do you think the ethnic
Albanian rebels are getting a lot of financial support from the United
States, and do you see any chance of committing U.S. troops to
Macedonia to prevent a civil war?
THE PRESIDENT: Steve, I take no
option off the table in terms of the troops. We're a
participant in NATO. I went to Europe recently and said, we
went into the Balkans together, we'll come out together, and I meant
Secondly, we've got some evidence that the
ethnic Albanians, the extremists, are raising money not only in
America, but in Europe. And America will do our part to make
sure that monies do not go to fund extremist activities that becomes a
destabilizing influence for a democratically-elected government in
Q Mr. President, on the
question of where patients could go to hold HMOs accountable if they're
wrongfully denied coverage, Democrats say that federal court, your
preferred venue, is too slow, too expensive, and frequently too far
away from where people live. Why are you so adamant about
keeping people out of their own state courts?
THE PRESIDENT: Terry, I think if
you look at this piece of legislation, you'll find there's a compromise
between those who say it should only be in the federal court, and those
who say it should only be in the state court. And the
Fletcher bill has come up with an alternative procedure, one that will
allow a certain cause of action to be in the federal court, and other
cause of action to be in a state court. And it's the right
approach. It's a good compromise between two positions.
Q But what's wrong with
Q Mr. President, a two
part question. Around the table here, today, you have all --
only Republicans. Do you plan talks like this with the
Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, talks about patients'
bill of rights? And related to that, how close are you on a
decision on stem cell research, and can you tell us which way you're
THE PRESIDENT: I'll make a decision
about that very emotional issue later on. In terms of
whether I've talked to Democrats, of course, I do. And there's a
Democrat sponsor of this bill. He doesn't happen to be at
the table, but he's on the right track, as far as I'm concerned, like
the other sponsors of this bill.
Thank you all for coming.
3:38 P.M. EDT