THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||March 5, 1998|
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT MEDICARE COMMISSION MEETING
The Cabinet Room
12:25 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good day, everyone. I am glad to bejoined here by members of the Medicare Commission. In a few momentswe will talk for the very first time about what we have to do asAmericans to preserve Medicare, a system that has served our countryso well for 33 years now. It's more than a program; it is a way wehonor our duty to our parents and build a future for our children.It has been one of the great achievements of American society in the20th century.
We've already done a lot in the last few years tostrengthen Medicare: The balanced budget will extend the Medicaretrust fund for at least a decade; $20 billion has been saved byreducing fraud abuse and mismanagement in the system; we're givingpeople on Medicare a wider range of health plan choices andpreventive services, including mammograms and diabetes management.
When Medicare was first passed into law, PresidentJohnson said -- and I quote -- "It proved that the vitality of ourdemocracy can shape the oldest of our values to the needs andobligations of changing times." I'm confident that the MedicareCommission will help us to build a new consensus to meet thechallenges of a new era, strengthening Medicare for the 21st centuryand giving our people the security they need to thrive.
I'd like to thank Senator Breaux for agreeing to chairthe Commission. He has a longstanding record both in his work on theAging Commission and the Finance Committee -- the Aging Committee andthe Finance Committee -- of working to develop consensus on importantissues affecting our senior citizens.
I'd also like to thank Congressman Thomas for hisleadership on this issue and on the Commission. He is well-known forhis expertise on the Medicare program. He shepherded the Medicareprovisions in the Balanced Budget Act through, and helped to assurethat we could achieve bipartisan agreement on these reforms. And forthat I am very, very grateful.
So I'd like now to give the Vice President and SenatorBreaux and Congressman Thomas a chance to say a few words.
Q Mr. President, are you upset by the leaking of yourJones deposition -- or did your people actually do the leaking?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say, the court has made itabsolutely clear that it is illegal to leak or to discuss it. And Ithink, Mr. Donaldson, I should follow the law. And so I don't haveanything else to say. I know you've got to ask the question, it'syour job. But I'm going to just do my job. That's what I'm doinghere. And I'm going to follow the law. That's what I wish everyoneelse would do.
Q Sir, you never answered the important questionsthat I think a lot of people out there would like to hear you on.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I believe I have given all theanswers that matter. And I don't have anything else to say at thistime. I'm just going to go back and do my job.
Q -- do you stand by the facts in the deposition asreported by the newspaper?
SENATOR ROCKEFELLER: Do you care what Medicare is?
Q We all care, sir.
Mr. President, it says in the deposition as reportedthat you asked Betty Currie to see if she could help Monica Lewinskyget a job.
THE PRESIDENT: For one thing, I haven't read thearticle. For another thing, I don't know whether the article isaccurate or not. Finally, whether it is or not, it is against thelaw. The judge has ordered us neither to release such materials orto discuss them. Somebody in this case ought to follow the law. Iintend to be that person, so that I can go back to work about thesethings. I have nothing else to say.
Q Things have gotten very personal between you andKenneth Starr, Mr. President. It seems to have gotten very personalbetween you and Kenneth Starr, Mr. President. I'm asking a questionnot about the deposition.
THE PRESIDENT: Sam never quits. He never quits.
Q Do you think Kenneth Starr is out to get you, Mr.President? It seems to have gotten very personal.
THE PRESS: Thank you.