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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Excerpts of Obama's Health Care Address to Congress Tonight

Below are excerpts from the speech that President Obama plans to deliver to Congress tonight. It comes at a time when many of us are beginning to question whether hw has bitten off more than he can chew.

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.

23 comments:

Michael Donovan said...

Bernie:

I want someone who tries to bite off more than they can chew, because this world and this country needs people like this.

The Health Care debate represents America's greatest crisis since the Vietnam War. At the same time, we have an economy that was nearly destroyed. We have world tension pushed to the brink. We have incredible racial, ethnic, and class tension inside our borders.

While I may have my preferences for a health care system and others have theirs. This is a debate that cannot end until we have reached a national consenus. We may all not like some components. We may like many. I don't know.

Nevertheless, I give credit to the man. He has forced us to discuss this incredibly important topic.

THAT is what Democracy is all about: deliberation; dialogue, civility, altruism, civility.

I would challenge anyone to think otherwise, no matter what, all they would like to satisfy is their own self-interest and that might lean to selfishness.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

ps...I am about to listen to the speech. He is a leader elected by a majority. I'll give him a chance.

Anonymous said...

Privatize the school system. Only parents with children in school should pay school taxes and the schools should be for profit and traded on the Market. THe money saved in school taxes will stimulate the economy. Why should I pay for your kid's education?

Anonymous said...

The plan is a turd and he doesn't even have the House votes to pass any government option scheme, let alone Senate votes. Vulnerable representatives who support the thing are committing electoral suicide. His plan is dead. It just doesn't have the sense to finally fall down.

Yes. He's bitten off more than he can chew.

Buddy Jesus said...

Great speech. The first ring of hell is reseved for American insurance companies.

Anonymous said...

Dear 808pm:

WHAT?

Thanks, I would never have had an education.

I hope you are kidding.

Anonymous said...


Nevertheless, I give credit to the man. He has forced us to discuss this incredibly important topic.

THAT is what Democracy is all about: deliberation; dialogue, civility, altruism, civility.

I would challenge anyone to think otherwise, no matter what, all they would like to satisfy is their own self-interest and that might lean to selfishness. “

What the left will never understand about conservatives is that we are not “selfish” but are instead rightly fearful of granting the government more power to control our lives. Any time we grant the government the right to “solve our problems” we empower a tyrant, perhaps a benevolent tyrant but a tyrant none-the-less.
Haven’t we learned the lesson of altruism practiced through a controlling state/government is fraught with peril?

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, Do me a favor and open your medicine cabinet. I think you took the wrong pills today. Complimenting barack Obama? Who'd have thunk it? That's why it's so hard to argue with you.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Just the usual German beer tonight.

Altruism is something many aspire to, modern day “liberals” see the state/government as the vehicle to achieve their lofty goals. Conversely, classical liberals/conservatives see the individual as the most efficient means towards progress. Yes, I believe Obama and the Democrats seek a “greater good.” However, history would seem to indicate that they are pursuing it through the wrong means.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

As Scott notes if your child has a tumor either have the money to get him help or take out the tumor yourself.

That is the history of America.

Anonymous said...

"YOU LIE!"

- SC Rep Joe Wilson

Donald said...

And a private school system has what to do with this posting? Or os this poster a one trick poney and did he/she attend public schools as a child?

lighthouse said...

I just finished watching it on-line, since I could not watch it live.

Re Mr. Armstrong's comment: "Any time we grant the government the right to “solve our problems” we empower a tyrant, perhaps a benevolent tyrant but a tyrant none-the-less." Was he just calling Bush and the Republican Congress "tyrants" for passing the trillion dollar perscription drug plan before an election?!? Is this not Hypocrisy with a capital "H"?

To Anon 8:08's comments: "Privatize the school system." Right now, public schools must educate all children. Under a TRULY private system they could cut off anyone not an "A" student, just like a TRULY private health system could cut off anyone with any medical condition that requires treatment/costs. Throw everyone out on the street who does not bring a profit to the company/school. And looking beyond the ideological horseblinders, what is the actual cost-benefit COSTS to society of either of those "private" options?!?

Add to this all the talk of "death panels" and "Nazis", and Republicans wonder why they are increasingly perceived as fringe thinking opportunists?

Anonymous said...

The ignorant redneck rep. from Louisana that spoke after Obama is a doctor who had three malpractice suits against him.

ironpigpen said...

German Beer

SEHR GUT

Youth football updates forthcoming?

Anonymous said...

Rep. Wilson is the symbol of the republican effort to refprm healthcare. They are an out of control bunch of no class idiots.

Anonymous said...

“As Scott notes if your child has a tumor either have the money to get him help or take out the tumor yourself.”

What utter sophistry.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Wilson was rude. His charge was accurate. The Trojan Horse "public option" is dead.

Any discussion of torte reform? Didn't think so.

Republicans have successfully gutted a tragically flawed nanny state impulse.

The system does work.

Anonymous said...

Check out this discussion.

http://patterico.com/2009/09/09/obamacare-already-slashes-number-of-uninsured/

47 million uninsured magically reduced to 30 million. All The One has to do is say so...

Looks to me like the "Ignorant redneck rep" from SC, (not Louisiana, 11:49, speaking of ignorance) nailed it.

LVCI said...

I think both conservatives and liberals both want are similar things. It's a matter where the line in drawn.

The disagreement seems to be who will pay for them and whether there will be 'Universal Health Insurance" or "Universal Healthcare". Two separate items which conservatives claim that everyone already receives 'Universal Healthcare', but "Universal Insurance Coverage" is another matter.

I may be wrong, but I don't accept the charges made against conservatives that they are not willing to pay for somebody else's healthcare as a valid argument. Since everyone who currently is "PAYING" in the various current insurance groups policies already do. But rather they are objecting to pay for someone who wants to freeload and not pay into that group. Am I wrong?

Neither side will likely do tort reform, even though they may speak of it... it never happens.

LVCI said...

During the address S.C. Rep Joe Wilson shouted out "YOU LIE!" I can't ever remember any other time when a president was speaking that he was yelled to by a member of congress. Can anyone else? I'm sure there were some who had bitten their lips till they bled, but never lashed out vocally. The waving of papers to distract the President while he was speaking wasn't so hot either.

Of course I do realize this is standard proceedure in the British Parliament, but this ain't the Parliament! Maybe if it were more people would watch it. Who know's maybe even FOX couldn't wait to air it!

Damn, those Brits do know how to have a good time: Prime Minister Gordon Brown vs's Parliament Now there's some good TV!

"Git er' Done"

Anonymous said...

O'Hare Disbarred for "Evil Intent" Activity

Anonymous said...

O'Hare Disbarred for "Evil Intent" Activity

Anonymous said...

Wilson is the face of the modern Republicn Party. Rude and Racist!