8:02 - Michelle Obama has walked in, I see she has sleeves on this time
8:04 - The cabinet is walking in. NBC is chatting about how some of the Republican gang of six is still trying to find common ground.
8:10 - Talking about how name dropping could be rather powerful for this speech, and that Obama is doing this to attempt to calm the political waters.
8:11 - Obama has just been announced, everyone is clapping and cheering. Obama is walking in with Harry Reid behind him. NBC is talking about what they know about the speech, says obama is going to extend a hand rather than clench his fist.
8:13 - Obama makes his way slowly down the aisle, everyone is stopping him to shake his hand, he just hugged Hillary. He just got up to the podium and handed copies of his speech to Biden and Pelosi
8:16 - Pelosi is banging the gavel to try to get everyone to quiet down. She introduces Obama, now everyone is clapping all over again. He's ready to get moving. Starting out talking about how his last speech was during the recession, credit frozen, 700,000 jobs lost, things are getting better, but recovery is still months away, he's not going to stop until people are back to work, credit can thrive, but we have pulled this economy back from the brink.
8:18 - Thanking congress for his support, including taking part in difficult votes, thanking the people for being patient with them to get economy back on track. Not here to clean up messes forever, time to move forward. Here tonight to talk about health care. Vows to be the last to have to talk about health care like this. Nearly a century since Teddy Roosevelt called for health care reform, everyone since then has tried it, but it hasn't happened. John Dingell's father introduced a bill back in 1943, and he continues to introduce that bill every year. Failure to pass reform has brought us to the breaking point. People are going bankrupt from health care, not poor, but middle class. People cannot be covered due to pre-existing conditions. Only advanced democracy to allow such hardship. 1 in 3 don't get insurance or can't get it. Even those who have insurance have less security and stability, afraid to change jobs because they'll lose coverage. Paying insurance but get dropped when they get sick. One man lost his insurance during his chemo because of a previous condition, and he had to stop chemo and died. Another woman had to cancel surgery due to her insurance canceling her policy right before, and it complicated her breast cancer. No one should have to go through that.
8:23 - Rising costs, 1.5 times more than other countries spent on health care, yet we are not healthier. Employees paying more for insurance or being dropped, entrepenurs having trouble starting businesses because of insurance costs like that. People paying $1000 hidden tax every year because of ER visits by uninsured. When HC costs keep growing fast, it puts strain on Medicare and Medicaid and soon more will be spent than taken in. These are the facts, no one disputes them, the system must be reformed, but how? Some support a single-payer option that puts restrictions on private insurance and guarantees health care for all by govt, others support letting private insurance continue. Believes we should build on what works in the current system, rather than trying to build a system from scratch.
Congress has been at its best and its worst, working tirelessly to give ideas on reform. Some ideas have been supported overwhelmingly by health care industry, which usually opposes reform. We are closer to reform, however, there have been the partisan fights and scare tactics that piss people off and mistrust the govt. Lots of confusion now due to bickering and people scoring political points. Now is the time for action and to knock off the fighting, that we can deliver to the american people on health care.
3 Basic Goals - More security and stability to those with health insurance, provide health care to those who don't, and rein in the rise in health costs. It asks for everyone, including employers and individuals to be involved with this.
First, if you already have insurance, or medicare, or medicaid, or VA, nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or doctor that you currently have. What it will do is make the insurance you have work better for you. It will be against the law to deny insurance due to pre-existing conditions. It will be against the law to reduce or drop coverage when you get sick. No longer able to put an arbitrary lifetime or yearly cap on coverage. Limit on out of pocket expenses, no one should be unable to afford to get sick. Insurance companies required to cover routine checkups and preventive care at no extra charge, will save money and lives. That's what americans who have insurance can expect, more security and stability.
If you don't have insurance, this plan will offer you quality, affordable choices. Lose or change job, or create own business, you will be able to get coverage. Create exchange marketplace for customers to find insurance. Currently how congress, large companies, and federal employees get insurance, the rest of the people should be able to do the same. If still can't afford it, tax credits provided to help get coverage. Exchange will be created in 4 years. Immediate offer to low cost coverage to those who need it and can't afford to be ill, was a good idea from John McCain.
Even if options provided, some may not want coverage or decide not to do right by their workers. Irresponsible behavior that costs everyone else, especially when they show up in the ER or picking up the tag for their other workers. Businesses and individuals must do their part as well. Basic health insurance must be carried by everyone, just like if you have auto insurance. Businesses must offer coverage, or must chip in to help with costs. Hardship waiver available if it comes down to it, however, large business must chip in, they can't game the system.
These reforms would benefit all americans, and the economy. There is a consensus to do it, but with all the misinformation out there, it's making people nervous. Some people are spreading misinformation because they want no reform at all. Some are talking about the death panels for senior citizens. The death panels are a lie, period (none of the republicans are clapping). The reforms would not apply to illegal immigrants (someone just screamed LIES). No federal dollars not used to fund abortions, all current conscience laws will be left alone. One attack has been on being able to choose a public option offered by the government. He believes that consumers benefit by having competition. Unfortunately in 34 states, health insurance is controlled by 5 or fewer companies, in alabama, 95% of the people covered are covered by one company. This doesnt give incentive to be good or to keep rates reasonable. Insurance folks are encouraged to maximize profits by dropping coverage or watering it down to make more profit. Obama not interested in putting private insurance out of business, but holding them accountable to the people instead of wall street. One way to keep them honest is to create a not-for-profit entity in the insurance exchange market. Only an option for those who do not have insurance, no one will be forced to it. Less than 5% of americans would actually sign up for it. Taxpayers will not be subsidizing it, it would have to be self-sufficient. Wants it to be much like how public and private universities can co-exist.
Not everyone is supporting this, but no one should exaggerate the benefits of reform in order to score political points. The public options is only a means to the end of preventing fraud and corruption in the insurance. Democrats or Republicans should not fear this. Proposals for co-ops, or only providing it to places that no affordable coverage there is. Viable options, but still want to make sure americans have a choice, period. Make sure that no bureaucrat, private or public, will stop an american from getting the insurance they need.
8:46 - How do we pay for this plan? Obama will not sign a plan that will add a dime to the deficit, now or in the future. More spending cuts if the savings do not materialize. One reason why nearly trillion dollar deficit now was due to unfunded initiatives kicking in (Iraq War). Will not make that same mistake again. Waste and abuse must be rooted out of the system to help realize savings. Four decades ago, medicare was created so seniors after working all their lives would not have to spend all their remaining money and years to pay for health care. Not one dime of the medicare treasury will pay for this plan. Rooting out waste and fraud will help pay for this plan and provide better health care to seniors. Will get seniors the benefits they were promised, and ensure medicare will continue for generations, and help pay for the gap in coverage that prevents some seniors from getting their medicines. Don't pay attention to stories that your coverage will be cut. Medicare will be protected by obama, the ones saying those stories are the ones who fight against medicare.
Since medicare is a big part of the system, making it more efficient brings about changes to help fix the rest of the system. Listening to other doctors will help bring forward the best practices to help fix health care. Insurance will benefit because they will get new customers. More preventive care could help bring costs down.
Republicans want to reform malpractice, not a silver bullet, but should be explored. Rein in the cost of defending medicine, and let the doctors practice medicine instead. Directing HHS to explore this. Fixing HC will cost 900 billion over 10 years, way less than what the Iraq war has been costing. Most costs will be paid for by what is already being spent, but is being spent badly now. Make it more efficient and it wil be fine. Deficit reduced by 4 trillion over time. Come to me with serious proposals, and I will listen to you. I will not listen to those whose only goal is to kill reform. I won't stand by while special interests work to keep the status quo. I will call out those who spread misinformation. Status quo is not the solution! Everyone in congress knows what will happen if reform is not passed, more americans will go bankrupt, more will lose coverage when they need it most, more businesses will go out of business because of costs. People are counting on us to pass this.
Received a letter from Ted Kennedy, after being diagnosed, to be opened on his death. Talked about the times of his life with his family, he wanted it to be this year that health care reform is passed. What we face is not just a material issue, but a moral issue as well, it is important to the character of our country. One of the wonderful things about america is our self reliance, healthy skepticism of govt, and our defense of freedom. The skepticism is throughout history as it should be. Those of us who knew Ted Kennedy know that what drove him was people like orrin hatch, john mccain, chuck grassley, all worked together to bring health care to children and people with disabilities. Not because of ideology, but because of a desire to help people. Understood the fear of dealing with major illness and the large heartedness to help people. Hard work and responsibility should be rewarded with security and fair play, sometimes govt should step in to uphold this. 1935, social security created to help those who had lost all their money due to depression, people claimed socialism, but congress stood firm and american has been better for it. 1965, a similar story with Medicare, but yet it was passed. The people then understood that there is a danger of too much govt, but there is also a danger of too little govt. If we lose the ability to debate and to be able to talk about the hard issues and the ability to try something hard, we lose something in ourselves. This moment does not call for kicking the issue down the road again, it is time to act rather than fear the future.
We can still act on the hard issues, and we can meet this moment in history. Thank you and God Bless You.