Ilovebenefits’s Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Excerpts from the President’s Address to Congress

Editor’s note: I’ve interlaced comments throughout.

—–

EXCERPTS OF THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS TONIGHT:

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.   [Did those generations perceive that they were suffering the same issues we believe we are today? Cost was their concern then as it is now.]

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. [Many of these people, the ones not on welfare, are not willing to spend their own money on health care and want someone else to pay the bill.] 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. [Isn’t this a function of the tax code? Couldn’t Congress give these people the same tax break it provides to employer based health insurance?]  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.   [Pre-existing condition exclusions keep the costs down for others. If these are no longer allowed then there has to be an individual mandate, everyone must purchase health care, and there has to be differences in rates based risk – as there is with auto insurance as well as other insurances of all types.]

***

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.   [Many of the groups agreed to support reform in return for other things. The AMA agreed so that the SGR formula would be changed and they would receive hundreds of billions in reimbursement increases for their members — doctors. Pharma agreed to support so that they might not be drug price negotiations. And the list goes on.]

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.   [They have asked for important answers on questions for which no answers have been put forth, namely how will the short and long term costs of health care be brought under control.]

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.   [If you call freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and honest debate, bickering, then these are basics of our way of life that people have died to secure and protect.]

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.   [Yes, but the structure of what it will compete against will force other plans to change to survive.]

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.     [There are innumerable research documents that shows prevention actually costs money. It reduces less disease than it costs to provide prevention and screening. So net, this will cost more money to enable. And not charging extra? The money has to come from somewhere. Making services appear to be free, invites overuse and misuse.]

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. [How do you know it will be quality?] 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.  [So now you will have a public plan, or a coop. On what basis will these be priced and reimbursed to providers? The devil is in the details.]

***

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.  [From everything we seen so far, with this plan, according to CBO, our deficits will grow even faster.] 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.   [How will you, actually all of us, pay for this? What will the new taxes be? How much? And how do you know that they won’t continually increase at a rate greater than wage growth?]

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.

THIS ISN’T THE ENTIRE ADDRESS, BUT IT IS THE PARTS THAT I HAVE ACCESS TO AT THIS TIME.

Advertisements

September 9, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: