Statement on Proposed Catastrophic Health Insurance Legislation

February 12, 1987

I will propose to Congress a comprehensive plan for providing health insurance for those who suffer a catastrophic illness. We all know family, friends, or neighbors who have suffered a devastating illness that has destroyed their financial security. As medical science has given us longer lives, we must face the new challenges to ensure that the elderly have security in their old age. A catastrophic illness can be a short-term condition requiring intensive, acute care services or a lingering illness requiring many years of care. It can affect anyone -- the young, the middle-aged, the elderly. The single common denominator is financial. It can require personal sacrifices that haunt families for the rest of their lives.

I am asking Congress to help give Americans that last full measure of security, to provide a health insurance plan that fights the fear of catastrophic illness. My plan would provide acute care for those over 65 by restructuring the Medicare program. Under my proposal, the elderly would receive catastrophic health care coverage under Medicare, while limiting out-of-pocket expenses to $2,000. This coverage will be made available for an additional monthly Medicare premium of $4.92. The plan also aims to improve protection for the general population and for the long-term care of the elderly. For too long, many of our senior citizens have been faced with making an intolerable choice -- a choice between bankruptcy and death. This proposed legislation would go a long way to help solve that dilemma.

Note: Marlin Fitzwater, Assistant to the President for Press Relations, read the statement to reporters at 12:15 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.