In the next year, the Congress must restructure the financing and delivery of health care to all Americans.
We are compelled to act, because our health care system cannot survive in its current form.
Every year, one million more Americans lose their health insurance coverage. Millions of others -- in fact, nearly all Americans -- fear losing their coverage if they become seriously ill or lose their job.
Many Americans have the most basic decisions of their life dominated, indeed dictated, by health care cost considerations. Whether to marry. Whether to have children. Where to work. Where to live.
These fundamental decisions should not be dictated by concerns about health insurance. But in the current system, they are.
President Clinton knows that reform must come. Members of Congress know that reform must come. The American people know that reform must come.
The cost of inaction will be much higher than the cost of action.
We must work together in good faith, to embrace the common aspects of the many plans which have been advanced, and to negotiate until we have enacted the best possible plan for the American people.
The Health Security Act is the culmination of many months of work. It includes input from many of us in the Congress, and many others who are represented here today.
The plan is not what any one person or any one organization would have designed acting alone. But that's true of every competing plan.
The plan represents an important first step toward protecting the health security of every American. It is also an important first step toward controlling the rapidly escalating costs of health care for families, for business, and for government.
This is our opportunity to enact a comprehensive and meaningful reform in our nation's health care system. It is our opportunity to make a positive change in the life of every American. It is our opportunity to expand access to health care while reducing its cost. This is our opportunity, and we must not allow it to slip by.