Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release June 23, 1998


Tipper Gore Announces New Public/Private Network to Support Children of Patients with Serious Mental and Physical Illness

Nashville, TN -- Vice President Gore announced a new directive today to make the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) more family-friendly, while Tipper Gore launched a new public-private partnership to help families cope with serious mental and physical illness.

"Tipper and I are pleased to be here today to talk about family-centered care -- an approach that relies on the partnership between providers, patients, and families to promote health and healing," the Vice President said on the second day of the Gores' seventh annual conference on policy issues of major concern to families and children. "Family-centered care acknowledges that the fundamental health care provider in America today is the family, and it is designed to unleash the healing power of the family."

The Vice President and Mrs. Gore moderated the "Family Re-Union 7: Families and Health," and each made announcements to help make health care more family-centered.

The Vice President:

Directed the FEHBP to Encourage Family Friendly Health Plans: The FEHBP will hold a series of meetings with families over the next year to identify ways that its health plans can be more responsive to the needs of families, and it will publish these findings in its 1999 annual call letter to insurers as a condition for participation in the program.

Mrs. Gore met with children and their families to discuss their experiences coping with their parents' mental and physical illnesses and the effect of these illnesses on their children.

In her remarks, Mrs Gore:

Launched a public-private network to support children and patients with serious mental and physical illnesses: A network of private and public groups will come together to support children of cancer and other seriously ill patients. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Cancer Institute will form a partnership to bring together researchers and service providers to help support children.

"We don't give credit, particularly to children, for the empathy, the resilience, and the downright individual strength we see in families facing a medical crisis, whether the crisis affects a sibling, a parent, or a grandparent," Mrs. Gore said. "And that is why I am pleased that the Federal Government, in partnership with families, scientists, caregivers, private foundations, and health and social services professionals, have joined together to help our children cope with their parents' illnesses."

The Vice President and Mrs. Gore heard reports from roundtable discussions addressing the following issues: principles of care for families with young children; family-centered elder care at home and in medical settings; successful community-based initiatives; strategies to give families the information they want; bringing families into the design of health care setting and medical training; creating responsive, flexible policy; and measuring success.

The day's activities followed on the heels of a discussion the day before with President Clinton, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Gore and Tipper Gore. The conference is co-sponsored by the Child and Family Policy Center at Vanderbilt University, and the Children, Youth & Family Consortium of the University of Minnesota.

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