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Remarks on Presenting the American Cancer Society Courage Awards and an Exchange With Reporters

April 22, 1993

The President. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the annum American Cancer Society Courage Awards. And the certificate salutes the two people I'll present the awards to for personal courage in the battle against cancer and for a message of hope and inspiration given to all Americans in the fight for life and health.

We have here to my right Dr. Reginald Ho, the president of the American Cancer Society; Stanley Shmichkiss, who is the chairman of the board of the Cancer Society; Dr. John Seffrin, the national executive vice president and chief staff officer of the Cancer Society.

The young gentlemen to my right is Mr. Jeremy Fleury, who is here with his mother, Sharon. And I want to tell you a little about him. He is 13, same age as my daughter. He's undergone treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma way back in 1989, and since then he's been in clinical remission. He's a very brave young man, and he's from Clovis, New Mexico.

So I want to give you this. I'll let you hold it so everyone can see it.

And further to the left is Matilda Goodridge, from New York, New York, who has been enrolled since 1981 in the Breast Examination Center of Harlem, located at the Harlem Hospital, which I have visited. She kept annual visits for a mammogram and in 1991 was diagnosed with a localized breast cancer. She's undergone surgery and treatment, and she's doing quite well. And I want to recognize her.

Both these folks have had a lot of personal difficulties because of the absence of medical coverage and some other economic problems, and they're carrying on with a lot of real courage. I also want to compliment Ms. Goodridge, as the son of a breast cancer survivor, for being enrolled in the breast examination program for over a decade. I think that example will help to save the lives of many women in this country who will see this ceremony recorded in the news media.

So I congratulate both of you. Let me give this to you. And thank you very much for being here.

[At this point, the President presented the awards.]

If I might point out, this young man and his mother—if she remains unemployed, they can be covered through Medicaid. But if she were to take another job, it would be very difficult, because of his treatment and past condition, even though he's in remission, for her to get a job with health insurance.

If we can pass reforms which will guarantee coverage to all Americans and which will provide a broad-based community base for any insurance against risks so that there will be no economic advantage or disadvantage to employers for hiring the parents or the people who suffer from disease, this country will be a long way down the road toward dealing with this problem. And I think that that clearly will be a part of the health program that we come out with, something that will guarantee coverage to all Americans and will enable people to leave their jobs to care for sick family members and then resume employment when possible without having the employer suffer economically crippling consequences or forcing the people to choose between staying unemployed to get Government health care or taking a job and losing health coverage.

Health Care Reform

Q. Mr. President, have you decided on a way to finance health care reform? I mean, you're moving toward a deadline now. Have you made any decisions?

The President. We're moving toward a deadline, and we'll have the details for you. I've already told—those things will be in the program. Whatever options we decide, we'll do that.

Q. When do you think you'll make your mind up?

The President. Well, we're still well within our deadline. I think that—because of my father-in-law's illness my wife was out of pocket for about 3 weeks, and so we're going to be pushed back a little bit off the 100 days. But we're working very hard. I spent many, many hours on this myself and, indeed, this afternoon will be spending another 2 1/2 hours on it. So I think we're pretty well on schedule.


Q. [Inaudible]—Elie Wiesel's comments about Bosnia this morning, sir, as a challenge to you personally?

The President. I think it was a challenge to the United States and to me and to the West to take further initiatives in Bosnia. And I accepted it as such.

I was eager to have a few moments to speak with Elie Wiesel after the ceremony. We went back into a holding room, and I introduced him to my wife and my daughter, who wanted very much to meet him. And then we sat and talked for a while. We may talk again. But I welcomed his remarks this morning.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Presenting the American Cancer Society Courage Awards and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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