TO: NHC Member Liaisons

FROM: Myrl Weinberg, CAE, President
Paul C. Smedberg, Director of Governmental Affairs

DATE: May 4, 2000

RE: Breakfast Briefing with HHS Secretary Donna Shalala

The National Health Council, with the support of an educational grant for the Arthritis Advocacy Partnership: Arthritis Foundation, American College of Rheumatology, and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, was honored to host a Breakfast Briefing today with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. Her remarks this morning focused on the Administration's priorities with regard to health-related issues.

Secretary Shalala opened her remarks by stating that the President has invited a group of bipartisan congressional leaders to the White House to discuss the Patient Bill of Rights. She emphasized the Administration's desire to quickly resolve the matter and expressed support for a compromise bill modeled after Norwood-Dingell, which passed the House last year. Also high on the Administration's list of priorities is Medicare Reform. Secretary Shalala reaffirmed the President's desire to continue working on overall modernization efforts and secure a prescription drug benefit this year. She stated that DHHS and the pharmaceutical industry must work together to craft legislation. She clearly stated she does not want price controls.

Secretary Shalala expressed some concern that the appropriations process and a budget resolution is moving slowly. She has confidence, however, that agreement will be reached and our nation's investment in health prevention and medical science will be protected. The Secretary believes our increasing investment in the National Institutes of Health must remain steady to encourage and protect young people wanting to go into science and research.

Others areas of priority for the Administration include: the uninsured, particularly coverage for children and the working poor; strengthening community health networks; and better oversight of IRBs. Secretary Shalala closed her formal remarks by announcing that she would appoint a new director for a new office within HHS to oversee issues related to clinical trials and IRBs.

The Secretary then answered questions from the audience. Questions to the Secretary touched upon diversity in the health care and research community, dental health services, Medicare reform, medical errors, and the proposed privacy regulations. Secretary Shalala believes that final regulations will be released by late summer and encouraged Congress to use the regulations as a starting point for congressional action.


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National Health Council 2001