Exchange With Reporters During a Meeting With Health Care Letter Writers in New York City
Q. Mr. President, Lawton Chiles is worried that your new refugee policy is going to put an undue burden on his State. Is there anything you can say to allay his concerns?
The President. Yes, I've already talked to him. We had a long talk about it. He just wants to make sure we don't start it until we have the capacity to implement it, which is what I said yesterday.
Q. Are you going to seek prior congressional authorization before you would consider sending troops to Haiti?
The President. I don't have anything further to say. I'm not going to discuss that option until it becomes appropriate.
Press Secretary Myers. Thank you.
Health Care Reform
Q. Mr. President, what did you gain by just meeting these people just now? Some insight into the average American's mind on health care?
The President. Well, these are—we received three letters from people who are here who either can't get health insurance or lost it, or people who think they have to stop caring for their children to go to work. There are all kinds of—the people who wrote me these letters— maybe I should let them speak for themselves— are often lost in the debate in Washington. Millions and millions of people whose hopes and whose whole lives are riding on the outcome of this health care debate are almost exclusively unorganized. They very often represent far more people than the people who have organized who are lobbying Congress, who are saying one thing or another about this health care bill. But they're in every community; they're in every work force; they're in every kind of situation.
Why don't we just—I don't know if you've met them already, but—did you introduce yourself to everybody here? Tell them who you are and what you do.
Sally Gorsline. I'm Sally Gorsline. I'm from Kingston, New York.
The President. And——
Ms. Gorsline. I had an illness, and I went bankrupt because I didn't have health insurance.
The President. And your friends came with you, right?
Ms. Gorsline. This is my daughter, Stephanie, and my future son-in-law, Bill.
The President. Who also has no health insurance.
Cathy Rosen. My name is Cathy Rosen. I'm from New Rochelle, New York. And I had coverage, but my boss went out of business, and I wound up taking up another job. And I have no insurance coverage right now. And I have a condition that warrants it, that needs health insurance coverage, but I don't have it, and it's potentially life-threatening. And this is my girlfriend, Ellen, who came with me.
The President. And you've now been seeing who?
Ms. Rosen. No, I'm not. I can't get treatment. I can't even find out what the possibilities are because I have no health coverage. And I just can't afford it.
Anita Lampert. My name is Anita Lampert. This is my husband, Steven, and my son, Cameron, who's getting very restless. My husband is self-employed. And so I wrote a letter discussing the problems of a self-employed individual, like probably a lot of you, photographers, freelance artists, plumbers, architects, anybody who's self-employed, and the problem with rates being so high. If you don't work for a big corporation, it's very hard to get insurance at affordable rates. And when you have a child that comes into your life, health insurance is very, very important.
The President. They might not be organized, but there are tens of millions of them. And we've already received—Hillary and I have received a million letters. We're just trying to give voice to them.
So in addition to all the economic arguments and all the substantive arguments I made in there in the speech, the real compelling case for health care reform is with these folks here.
NOTE: The exchange began at 2:10 p.m. in the Chiles of Florida. A tape was not available for Mercury Ballroom at the New York Hilton. In his verification of the content of this exchange. remarks, the President referred to Gov. Lawton
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters During a Meeting With Health Care Letter Writers in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219678