Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ari & I: June 27, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber

Mokhiber: There is an argument Ari, that any patients' bill of rights bill, no matter what the approach, is bound to fail. This argument was put forth most recently by Marcia Angell, who is the former head of the New England Journal of Medicine, in a New York Times column a couple days ago, "A Wrong Turn on Patients' Rights."

She argues as follow. She says: "It is becoming apparent to nearly everyone that our experiment with private managed care has failed. The system is imploding and a patients' bill, by increasing costs, will accelerate its demise."

Then she says: "The answer is a single-payer bill that covers everyone and more efficiently uses the resources we allocate to health care. This is tantamount to extending Medicare to all Americans."

Two questions: one, do you believe that this private system has failed.

And why not Medicare for all?

Ari Fleischer: The President believes very strongly that people should have the right to have choices in health care marketplace. And for some people they will voluntarily want to have managed care. For other people, they will want to have fee-for-service care. For other people they will want to have PPOs -- provider sponsored organization care. For some people, medical savings accounts make sense.

But the point is, health care should be in the hands of consumers. They should be empowered to be able to enter the marketplace to get the insurance and the health care that they think is best for them and their families.

There are many people in this room who wrote extensively about senior citizens who lost their HMOs because HMOs do not have sufficient reimbursement rates, which Congress fixed, and President Clinton signed into law late last year to increase reimbursements for HMOs.

And many seniors said thank you to President Clinton and the federal government, because it reserved the option that they themselves chose. And through HMOs, many seniors have access to drugs, for example, which they cannot get through Medicare.

So, the President believes the answer is empowering consumers with choices.

Mokhiber: But just to follow up, if in fact that is the argument, why not just repeal Medicare and give the seniors total choice?

Ari Fleischer: Seniors are increasingly receiving choices as a result of some of the reforms created in 1997 that President Clinton signed into law, seniors did for the first time have more choices available to them under Medicare. Seniors, for example, for the first time, have medical savings accounts. Seniors, as you indicate, are in HMOs, if they want to be in HMOs. Seniors have to pay Medigap, however. Medigap is very expensive.

Mokhiber: Why not repeal Medicare?

Ari Fleischer: The President believes very deeply that we maintain Medicare. He believes it so deeply that he wants to make sure the system is there for younger workers, young people, and that's why he proposes to save Medicare, because Medicare, like Social Security, is going bankrupt.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'The Facebook Papers' Spur More Calls to 'Break Them Up!'

Other critics are demanding a "full, independent, outside investigation" of the tech titan as whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies to the U.K. Parliament.

Jessica Corbett ·

Critics See Menendez Villainy Equal to Sinema's on Medicare Drug Pricing Fight

"It's discouraging to see Sen. Menendez is on the wrong side of this fight rather than leading the charge for more affordable, accessible healthcare for all."

Brett Wilkins ·

Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·

Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo