Archive for Wednesday, September 9, 2009

White House releases excerpts from President Obama’s speech tonight on health care

September 9, 2009, 5:19 p.m. Updated September 9, 2009, 5:26 p.m.


Editor's note: The White House Wednesday afternoon released these excerpts from President Barack Obama's speech tonight on health care reform.

I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or expensive to cover.


During that time, we have seen Washington at its best and its worst.

We have seen many in this chamber work tirelessly for the better part of this year to offer thoughtful ideas about how to achieve reform. Of the five committees asked to develop bills, four have completed their work, and the Senate Finance Committee announced today that it will move forward next week. That has never happened before. Our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors’ groups and even drug companies – many of whom opposed reform in the past. And there is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge – not just government and insurance companies, but employers and individuals. And it’s a plan that incorporates ideas from Senators and Congressmen; from Democrats and Republicans – and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.


Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

That’s what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan – more security and stability.

Now, if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange – a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it’s time to give every American the same opportunity that we’ve given ourselves.


This is the plan I’m proposing. It’s a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight – Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.

But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true.

That is why we cannot fail. Because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed – the ones who suffer silently, and the ones who shared their stories with us at town hall meetings, in emails, and in letters.


beatrice 8 years, 8 months ago

lg40, not that you come across as an out of touch, hyper-critical, partisan goof or anything, but I'm sure the many millions in our country without health insurance would disagree with you, as would those who want to see health care for all Americans become a reality in our lifetime.

seth5792 8 years, 8 months ago

Another checkmark on the agenda...............

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

" Let talk about tort reform, that would drop medical cost like no other."

Malpractice payouts amount to less than 3% of overall medical costs, so your claim is mathematically impossible.

"I have to pay cash for my doctor visit, the funny thing is how much cheaper it is to pay cash than it is to go thru an insurance company."

Perhaps your doctor is treating you "off the books." Because typically, someone without insurance pays much higher rates for treatment than insurance companies get charged.

Mixolydian 8 years, 8 months ago

Obama is a complete disaster for this country.

Obama, Pelosi and Reid. That kind of monumental incompetence is going to inevitably result in a wide swing right and we'll have a government of Phill Klines.

There is some sort of national character flaw that we have that we keep electing incompetence. For once, can't we all rally around governmental leadership that's grounded, experienced and level headed? Democrat, Republican, whatever, someone.

Stop being zombies.

This health plan is going to devastate our economy.

Focus on our budget, our exponentially increasing debt to China and other countries, our freaking economy and rising unemployment first.

This is insane.

lctchr1 8 years, 8 months ago

Pah-chhhhhhh! But yes, serious campaign finance reform and term limits are the solution. OUR government is not our government.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

Mixolydian-- did you bounce your remote off the wall during the speech?

frador 8 years, 8 months ago

Did anyone actually listen to the speech? I know I shouldn't be jumping into the hornets nest of bi-partisan extremism that is these message boards, but come on! The health care plan is not going to devastate our economy. If two wars and tax cuts for the absurdly wealthy can't bring us down, this will not. Plus, it has the added bonus of promoting health instead of death.

Did anyone watch the Republican response? One aspect I can't wrap my mind around is the decrying of cutting Medicare and, in the same breath, demonizing a public option as socialist. It makes my brain hurt.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the biggest fan of what is becoming of Obama's plan, I just think that the voices on this board are especially shrill. There is very little in the way of intelligent discourse. I can't imagine that I will make a difference, except in possibly diluting the vitriol.

LiberalDude 8 years, 8 months ago

Great speech! Obama really delivered on this one. We need healthcare reform and we need it now!

Scott Drummond 8 years, 8 months ago

That's a lie, plain and simple.

After a month of the loons and crazys being foisted upon us by the corporate media, tonight we heard from a responsible leader. That's the guy we elected.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 8 months ago

I am gravely concerned for our civilization. Tonight one elected representitive yelled "liar" several times at the President of the United States. A U.S. Congressman.

The vileness and rudeness and law of the jungle that has been loosed in civic meetings around the country has now percolated into the proceedures of the U.S. Legislative Branch. Our republic is at risk. Our civilization in threatened by animal-like behavior of some of it's citizens now including an elected representative to the U.S. Congress. This display of the lowest common denominator of human behavior that has surfaced as a significant part of the citizens of the republic decend to anarchy and vileness. I fear that our country will not last another 50 years. This is reflective of the brownshirts and street ruffians in 1930's Germany

The nazis may well win this one this time. They will overwhelm our civilization with their racist and facist right wing extremism, as they attempted to to in the 1930's. They are well on their way to doing this. The evidence is everywhere. This has nothing to do with health care, this is the open door to our extinction.

promitida 8 years, 8 months ago

THANK got that the people telling complete lies about the health care reform were put to shame. And for anyone saying that the policy is free...I'm sorry that you didn't care enough to listen to the speech but he said SPECIFICALLY that the policy holders still pay premiums. There's nothing FREE about it. Get over yourself- you sound like idiots.

gogoplata 8 years, 8 months ago

Obamacare = Higher costs, lower quality.

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

Wha wha wha wha wha wha wha, that's Charlie Brown's teacher sounding like Obama. That's what I get when I hear this health care debate. For all of you who are Pro-Obamacare, answer this, why should I believe in individual mandates? Max Baucus says he is going to impose financial penalties on everyone who cannot afford health insurance, individuals & families, not just businesses. So let me get this straight, I am going to be labeled a criminal if I cannot afford health insurance, right? If so, then damn this plan.

gogoplata 8 years, 8 months ago

Higher emotional instability?

Do you diagnose everyone with differing views?

feeble 8 years, 8 months ago

FYI, on the illegal immigrant healthcare claim, the House version of the health care bill explicitly prohibits spending any federal money to help illegal immigrants get health care coverage. Illegal immigrants could buy private health insurance, as many do now, but wouldn't get tax subsidies to help them.

The only valid criticism is that it doesn't require enough verification of citizenship.

a complete debunking of this claim can be found at politifact:

It is worthwhile to note that Rep. Wilson has received significant campaign contributions this cycle from the healthcare industry:

tkeagleblog 8 years, 8 months ago

Obama never truly addressed the issues that needed to be said. I doubt that the kind of coverage he is stating in his policy will be tax free, or not put the country more in debt. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. Covering the debt by cutting the red tape on Medicare? LOL give me a break. If it was that simple, it would have been done long time ago.

Forcing ppl to have health ins.? Come on. There are ppl out there that can cover and save for what they need. They don't need the Govt. telling them what to do. I’m not a Repub. Or Dem. I’m independent. But I’m not stupid.

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

TK, why then do the damn people in Congress keep talking about individual mandates?

rhd99 8 years, 8 months ago

Ok, Porch, let's. So, we are criminals if we can't afford health insurance? Look, what does the mandatory testing of drivers, taxes for schools, police & firemen have to do with healthcare? Explain the utility, please.

Lacy Mohler 8 years, 8 months ago

All week we were promised Obama's health care plan. Obama was going to give us the details of his health care plan. Obama's plan is---Congress will have to hammer out the details!

I will support Obamacare if Congress is forced to enroll in the public option. It is the government plan, they should be the first people to sign up. People here illegally will not get the healthcare? Bet immigration reform follows closely on the heels of healthcare reform.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 8 months ago

"he official name of the Nazi Party was the National Socialist Party."

But by the time they had come to power, they had murdered all the communists and real socialists, and then showed their true colors by allying themselves with the conservatives and the country's businessmen and industrialists, and folks like Henry Ford and Prescott Bush in the US.

You know what they say, Pil, a little knowledge can be dangerous. Let us know when you become even a little dangerous.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 8 months ago

The Republican Party has made the conscious decision to screw this country and bring it to its knees rather than engage in any kind of true bipartisan cooperation and compromise. This is not statesmanship. The total disrespect for the office of the President shown tonight is something that should shame and embarrass this country. I, for one, hope that sanctions come from it.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 8 months ago

Joe Wilson is my new hero. About time someone in congress got a pair,

tkeagleblog 8 years, 8 months ago

Auto insurance is so that you can pay for someone else that you might injure while driving your 2000 lbs hunk of steel driving down the road. I think there is a big difference. FYI, you can still get sued more then what your insurance is paying for. And go bankrupt. Don’t see the govt. getting in the middle of that. As far as the other items, they don’t even fall close in the same area to bring up.

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 8 months ago

And I'm sure, Mr. Catfish, that if someone had done the same to GWB you'd be squealing like a piggie with it's tail stuck under a gate.

jimmyjms 8 years, 8 months ago

"Why is every country in this big world come here for the best care??"

Putting aside the grammar of this statement, it's actually the other way around.

gogoplata 8 years, 8 months ago

--gogoplata: Very telling that you only took issue with the first half of my quip. Seems you accept that you do, indeed, have lower credibility with your unfounded accusation that reform will lead to lower-quality care. Fear and paranoia make for a shaky foundation, upon which to build an opposing viewpoint.

I just thought your off the cuff psychological diagnosis was funny. My point of view is hardly unfounded. Government does a piss poor job of running just about anything when compared to the free market. Costs go up as quality of service declines.

The more money that has been spent on government-run healthcare, the less healthcare we have gotten. This kind of result is generally true of all government bureaucracies because of the absence of any market feedback mechanism. Since there are no profits in an accounting sense, by definition, in government, there is no mechanism for rewarding good performance and penalizing bad performance. In fact, in all government enterprises, exactly the opposite is true: bad performance (failure to achieve ostensible goals, or satisfy "customers") is typically rewarded with larger budgets. Failure to educate children leads to more money for government schools. Failure to reduce poverty leads to larger budgets for welfare state bureaucracies. This is guaranteed to happen with healthcare socialism as well.

Costs always explode whenever the government gets involved, and governments always lie about it. In 1970 the government forecast that the hospital insurance (HI) portion of Medicare would be "only" $2.9 billion annually. Since the actual expenditures were $5.3 billion, this was a 79 percent underestimate of cost. In 1980 the government forecast $5.5 billion in HI expenditures; actual expenditures were more than four times that amount – $25.6 billion. This bureaucratic cost explosion led the government to enact 23 new taxes in the first 30 years of Medicare. (See Ron Hamoway, "The Genesis and Development of Medicare," in Roger Feldman, ed., American Health Care, Independent Institute, 2000, pp. 15–86). The Obama administration's claim that a government takeover of healthcare will somehow magically reduce costs is not to be taken seriously. Government never, ever, reduces the cost of doing anything.

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