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UYGHUR
29-08-05, 23:45
Dear Mr. Mijiti:

As the Congress prepares to return to Washington following the August
recess, I want to take this opportunity to update you on the issues that
have been, or will be, before the United States Congress. As I travel
throughout the State, I am privileged to meet with many of you and
discuss the issues and concerns that you share with so many other New
Yorkers. I am looking forward to returning to Washington and continuing to
advocate for the interests of all New Yorkers, and to working to help
our great state move forward with strength and enhanced opportunity for
all.

Economic Development

New Yorkers from every part of the state continue to be concerned about
the state of our economy. Working with my colleagues in Washington, I
am committed to fight for an economic policy that will create new jobs
and help workers who have been downsized. I am also working hard in
New York to build partnerships and create programs that promote economic
growth right here at home.

One of my priorities continues to be supporting the local small
businesses and entrepreneurs who are the driving engines of New York's
economic growth. I firmly believe that our state has the infrastructure, the
labor force and the economic and intellectual capital to compete and
win in the 21st century global marketplace. I am proud to promote a
number of programs that support these businesses throughout New York State.

Through the Northern Adirondack Trading Cooperative, nearly 40
companies in six upstate counties have worked with local Chambers of Commerce
and universities to combine internet marketing skills with good business
planning and practices so that individual companies are able to
demonstrate to the world, through eBay, the quality workmanship and products
that are made in upstate New York. The results have been nothing short
of remarkable. Businesses in upstate New York, often with only one or
two employees, are now selling their wares around the world; they are
hiring more employees; and they are helping to drive the economy in
their local communities. As the Northern Adirondack Trading Cooperative
continues to grow and thrive, a similar cooperative is planned for the
Finger Lakes region.

I am very excited about the success of the "Farm to Fork" program,
which I have been developing for the last several years. The idea is
simple but powerful: New York City has some of the finest restaurants in the
world, and New York State's farmers and vintners are producing some of
the finest foods and wines in the world. To bring the two together,
and create a better link between what New York grows and what our
restaurants serve, I have been working with New York State growers,
processors, wholesalers, and others to expand markets for New York agricultural
products, particularly in downstate regions. While the primary goal of
this initiative is to continuously increase the demand for our state's
agricultural products, this program also benefits consumers throughout
New York, by providing them with the high-quality, specialty produce.

Another initiative that's having an important impact on our state's
economy is the Central New York Match project. This ambitious project
brings together the significant medical expertise and resources of the
central New York region to increase economic growth, and to build a path
to innovation and discovery in the field of life-saving medical
technology. New York has all the ingredients necessary to compete in the life
sciences industry: we rank third in the nation in the number of
students earning science and engineering degrees, and if upstate New York
was a separate state, it would rank eighth nationally in medical
equipment and supply employment. Central New York Match works to create new
jobs by combining the research breakthroughs in New York's university
labs with companies that can bring these new drugs and treatments to
market. By capturing the potential of new medical breakthroughs, Central
New York Match is helping to improve our lives and strengthen our
economy.

Veterans and Military Health Care

I believe that there is no better way to honor our veterans for their
service and courage than to ensure that they receive quality health care
through the Department of Veterans Affairs. I was honored to be named
the "Unsung Hero of the 108th Congress" by the American Legion for
helping lead the way in securing a record increase in funding for veteran's
health care for fiscal year 2004. I voted to dramatically increase the
amount of funding budgeted for veterans' health care for fiscal year
2006 and will continue to work to maintain, enhance, and guarantee an
adequate level of health care funding for the Department of Veterans
Affairs - fighting to keep New York VA hospitals open, to provide more
funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and to help guarantee VA
health care funding.

Last year, I was proud to lead the charge, along with Senator Lindsey
Graham of South Carolina, to greatly expand access to military health
care benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserve and their
families. This expanded eligibility to the "TRICARE" system went into
effect in April 2005. Senator Graham and I are looking to build on this
important first step by extending TRICARE eligibility to all members of
the National Guard and Reserve, regardless of their activation status.
We have introduced legislation known as the National Guard and Reserves
Reform Act for the 21st Century. And last month, the Senate
unanimously approved our plan to expand access to every Guardsman and Reservist
and their families.

Senator James Talent of Missouri and I have set out a comprehensive
approach to tracking the health of our soldiers before and after an
overseas deployment so that we have adequate information if medical problems
develop. The Medical Readiness and Tracking Act of 2004 is designed to
address two issues that are critically important to our men and women
in uniform. First, it develops better policies and information in order
to track the health of soldiers before and after a deployment overseas.
Second, it takes steps to improve the medical and dental readiness of
our National Guard members and Reservists. A version of the
Clinton-Talent legislation was included in the Fiscal Year 2005 Department of
Defense authorization bill that was signed into law by President Bush.

In the 108th Congress, I introduced the Korean War Veterans Recognition
Act to honor our nation's Korean War veterans. The legislation would
include National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day among the days when
Americans should make a special effort to display the American flag. I
plan to reintroduce this important bill in the 109th Congress.

I am also a proud co-sponsor of the Retired Pay Restoration Act of the
2005. This bipartisan bill would provide fair retirement benefits to
America's disabled veterans by helping to fix a more-than-a century-old
law that prevents disabled veterans from receiving both retirement pay
and disability pay at the same time. Building on hard-won improvements
to the original law that have been enacted in recent years, the Retired
Pay Restoration Act of 2005 would immediately end the prohibition on
concurrent receipt for additional disabled veterans. I will continue to
work hard with my colleagues to implement full concurrent receipt,
because that is what our veterans have earned.

Addressing the Crisis In Health Care

We face an expanding crisis in health care. The population of
uninsured Americans continues to grow, and even for people who have insurance,
the cost of insurance keeps going up, cutting into the ability of many
families to provide some of life's other necessities. We continue to
suffer the consequences of a system that leaves too many of our fellow
human beings alone and without help when they are sick. We are spending
more money on health care than any other country in the world, and yet
we are not getting the return on our investment that we deserve.

One of the great opportunities we have to improve our health care
system and to make it more cost effective is to bring our health care
infrastructure into the 21st century. We have access to the most advanced
medical tools, and yet patient safety is compromised every day due to
medical errors, duplication and other inefficiencies that result from an
outdated information system. Doctors who use the latest cutting-edge
technology to perform surgery and treat diseases are forced to keep
complicated records using a system that is little better than paper and
pencil. Improving our Health Information Technology ("Health IT") is
essential to improving the quality and cost of health care in America.

Moving from a paper-based health care system to secure electronic
medical records will reduce mistakes and save lives, time and money. That is
why I have joined with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce The
Wired for Health Care Quality Act of 2005. This legislation promotes
use of electronic health records and establishes standards for the
creation of an interoperable health information technology system.

Improving Health IT is an important first step in improving our health
care system, and I look forward to working to get this bill passed and
to putting our health care system onto the road to recovery.

Transportation Improvements

On August 10, the major transportation bill passed by the Congress was
signed into law. It was an honor to represent New York's interests in
this bill, as both a member of the Senate's Environment and Public
Works Committee, and as a conferee helping to negotiate the differences
between the House and Senate versions of the Act.

I am so proud of the enormous amount of good news this law holds for
New York: more than $16.5 billion for New York's transportation needs,
$10.07 billion in highway funds and $6.5 billion for transit systems.
This represents a 19 percent increase in highway funding and a 30
percent increase in public transit funding compared to the last
transportation bill.

These investments in New York will benefit every corner of our state.
They will ensure that New Yorkers can travel quickly and safely, and
they will create thousands of quality jobs. I am very excited that as
New York grows, it will have the benefit of an improved transportation
infrastructure built by New Yorkers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It is an enormous honor and privilege to represent the State of New
York. As the 109th Congress moves forward, I will continue to focus on
the issues that matter to New York's families, and I am committed to
working with New Yorkers from every part of the state to make New York more
secure, more prosperous and more filled with opportunity for everyone.

Sincerely yours,
Hillary Rodham Clinton