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CNN Today

Clinton Orders Medicare to Cover Clinical Trials

Aired June 7, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: President Clinton says older Americans are being left out of clinical trials of new drugs and procedures, and that money is the reason. So today, he sought to change that.

And CNN's Kathleen Koch tells us all about it now. She's in Washington -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, up until now, senior citizens have been reluctant to participate in tests of new drugs or new treatments because Medicare would not pay for the cost of their -- any treatments that they were facing, that the cost of their care, even if there was a complication. So any elderly who did sign on ran the potential risk of incurring thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The result, for instance in breast cancer, where 44 percent of elderly -- elderly women, I should say, make up 44 percent of the patients, only 1.6 percent of them participate in clinical trials to find a cure or a treatment for the disease.

So today President Clinton said that, for the first time, Medicare will begin paying for the care of the elderly and disabled patients who are in clinical trials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As America ages, we must provide all our seniors affordable quality health care. And we should be using our cutting-edge science to meet that challenge. Simply put: The more seniors we enroll in trials, the faster we'll be able to use these advances to save American lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: And there is hope now that private health care providers, which often follow Medicare's lead, will now expand their coverage to include the patient cost of those who participate in these clinical trials. Right now, many private health care providers deny such coverage, saying that it is experimental.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: OK, Kathleen Koch, from Washington.

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