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Special Event

Hillary Rodham Clinton Address Senate on Health Care

Aired February 13, 2001 - 9:36 a.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now live pictures: Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking on health care and patients' bill of rights. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: ... in these communities. I will carry their concerns about the economy to the Budget Committee, on which I am pleased to serve, and where we are fashioning the framework for the next federal budget.

We're hearing about surplus projections and words of caution about how much faith to place in them. We are hearing about President Bush's tax cut plans and words of caution from colleagues who voted for big tax cuts in the early 1980s, cuts which helped contribute to the ruinous deficits and high interest rates that hobbled our nation's capacity to create jobs, invest in people and pay down our national debt.

The budget resolution we create sets the stage for how much we can invest in health care, schools, and the other pressing needs of families throughout our country. Later this week, I will return to the floor to talk about the budget in greater detail. But today I would like to discuss a topic that transcends party, geography and ideology. It's an issue that is important to the people in Rome and Watertown, Rochester and Brooklyn and everywhere I've been in recent weeks. And it will be foremost in my mind as the outlines of the 2002 budget take shape.

And that is improving access to quality, affording health care for New Yorkers, for all Americans and especially for our children. In this session of Congress, we will need to focus on many aspects of health care: medical privacy, Medicaid funding, genetic discrimination, providing prescription drug coverage for our seniors and long-term care for our families, among others. Today, I would like to talk about the importance of insuring more Americans, particularly our children, and protecting the rights of those who are insured.

In all corners of New York, I've met countless people who have told me powerful stories of the cruel inequities of our health care system. Last August, at the Dutchess County Fair, a single mother told me how hard it was to keep her family afloat because her medical bills totaled more than $30,000. She was worried she'd be impoverished and forced to go on welfare. In Massena, an uninsured woman suffering from cancer told me how much she had finding a doctor who would treat her for free.

In the Montefiore children's emergency room in the Bronx, I saw children who had come there for asthma treatments because they had no health coverage and therefore no doctor of their own. From Buffalo to Bay Shore, the people of New York have urged me to go to the Senate to fight for better health care. Now, many of my colleagues will remember when I came to Capitol Hill seven years ago with an idea or two about how to improve health care in our country.

At that time, I was privileged to work with the president's father who served not only Rhode Island, but our country so well for so many years. We were not successful then. But I learned some valuable lessons about the legislative process, the importance of bipartisan cooperation and the wisdom of taking small steps to get a big job done. The Clinton-Gore administration took such steps.

And with the help of both Democrats and Republicans, we made progress: The Kassebaum-Kennedy Health Insurance, Portability and Protection Act; the Family and Medical Leave Act; the Children's Health Insurance Program; the help we gave to give young people leaving the foster care system under the Chafee Bill; the eligibility for Medicaid health coverage through their 21st birthday; ending drive-by deliveries; mental health parity; helping to prevent breast cancer by waving cost-sharing for mammography services in the Medicare program; and providing annual screening for beneficiaries age 40 and older; advances in federally funded medical research; the Human Genome Project.

But even with such progress, there are still 44 million Americans who are uninsured. Adults with health insurance are three times more likely to receive care when they need it. People with no health insurance...

PHILLIPS: Hillary Rodham Clinton speaking before the Senate on health care and patients' bill of rights and how she'll be fighting for better health care for people in New York and all across the United States.

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