More headlines: Barack Obama on Health Care

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Paul Ryan's Roadmap should be debated

The only public official in Washington who seemed willing to publicly give Ryan his props was Barack Obama. While visiting a Republican conference in January 2010, the president waved a copy of the Road Map over his head and said, "I think Paul, for example, head of the Budget Committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. I've read it. I can tell you what's in it. And there are some ideas in there that I would agree with, but there are some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about, because I don't agree with them."

A month later, shortly before passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, Ryan showed his gratitude toward Obama during a health care summit by assailing the bill to the president's face as "full of gimmicks and smoke and mirrors," ticking off its quantitative errors and then characterizing it with the Frank Luntz-tested phrase "government takeover health care." Obama stared icily at the Budgeteer throughout his harangue.

Source: Do Not Ask What Good We Do, by Robert Draper, p.138 Apr 24, 2012

GOP budget plan ends Medicare as we know it

A senior White House official would later claim that the president and his speechwriters had been unaware that Ryan had been invited to the event. Obama's speech that afternoon amounted to a stern rebuke of the Path to Prosperity. "It's a vision that says America can't afford to keep the promise we've made to care for our seniors. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it. Many are someone's grandparents who wouldn't be able to afford nursing home care without Medicaid. Some are middle-class families who have children with autism or Down's syndrome.These are the Americans we'd be telling to fend for themselves."

Ryan sat and tried not to explode. The attack felt both gratuitous and personal to him. As he would later say, "'Autism,' 'kids with Down's syndrome,' 'maybe your grandparents' -- that's demagoguery. That's rank demagoguery, and it's beneath the office."

Source: Do Not Ask What Good We Do, by Robert Draper, p.142-143 Apr 24, 2012

OpEd: gambler's instinct over "Slow Down crowd"

Obama's mainstream critics complained in 2009 that he was too ambitious; he loaded too much freight on the Washington train. But the Slow Down crowd failed to take account of the rapid evaporation of any president's political capital. Obama was right to at least try to tackle health care right away, or it would never happen. So he doubled down on a reform bill with a gambler's instinct that is rare in cautious Washington. The president ended in March 2010 with a bill that left no one completely satisfied but accomplished a lot nonetheless, most notably ending America's status as the only advanced nation in the world that discriminated against sick people.

The great irony was that a candidate who came to office in part because of his silver tongue was unable until 2010 to explain convincingly why the country should follow him on health care. He failed to persuade his fellow Democrats to use their fleeting 61 vote supermajority in the Senate to enact more of his program.

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p. xiv-xv May 18, 2010

Guaranteed health care for anyone who needs it

I’ll end the outrage of one in five African Americans going without the health care they deserve. We’ll guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and ensure that the quality of your health care does not depend on the color of your skin. And we’re not going to do it 20 years from now or 10 years from now, we’re going to do it by the end of my first term as President.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention Jul 12, 2008

1998: Passed 11 bills on healthcare and child welfare issues

In 1999, the first year of Obama's second term was his most successful yet. Obama co-sponsored almost 60 bills, of which 11 became law, almost one each month. The measures focused on health care and child welfare: increased funding for after-school programs, tightened scrutiny of nursing homes, and improved training in the use of heart defibrillators are examples. With Democrats in the minority, Obama's bills required Republican support for passage; many garnered substantial bipartisan majorities.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 33 Apr 1, 2008

Hillary’s plan must either be enforced, or leave out people

CLINTON: Sen. Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not. My plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable. And on many occasions, independent experts have concluded exactly that.

Source: 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

The problem with health care is about affordability

The problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care; the problem is they can’t afford it. My plan emphasizes lowering costs, not only setting up a government plan so that people who don’t have health insurance can buy into it and will get subsidized, but also making sure that those who have health insurance but are struggling with rising co-payments, deductibles, premiums. Under Bush, families are paying 78% more on health care than they were previously. We put in a catastrophic re-insurance plan that will help reduce those premiums for families by an average of about $2,500 per year. Every expert that’s looked at this has said there is not a single person out there who’s going to want health care who will not get it under my plan. My plan also says children will be able to stay on the parents’ plan up until the age of 25. Both Edwards and Hillary have a hardship exemption, where, if people can’t afford to buy health care, you exempt them, so that you don’t count them.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Bring GOP & Dems together to make healthcare affordable

Text on screen: “Obama offers universal health care plan.” Obama speaking:

“I’ll be a president who finally makes health care affordable to every single American by bringing Democrats and Republicans together. I’ll be a president who ends the tax break for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans. And I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. We are one nation and our time for change has come.”

Source: FactCheck's AdWatch on 2008 TV ad in Nevada, “President” Jan 17, 2008

Reforms in prevention and drug price negotiation save money

I emphasize how important prevention & cost savings can be in the Medicare system. Many of the reforms in my healthcare plan will reduce costs not just for the overall system, but also for Medicare. We’re not going to make some of these changes unless we change how business is done in Washington. The reason we can’t negotiate prescription drugs under the Medicare prescription drug plan is because the drug companies specifically sought and obtained a provision in the Bill that prevented us from doing it.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

Help young people deal with the cost of medical education

We’ve got to deal with the cost of medical education. We have to deal with college costs generally, and that’s why I put forward proposals to get banks and middle men out of the process and expand national service to encourage young people to go into these helping professions where we need a lot more work.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

National smoking bans only after trying local bans

Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Would you be in favor of a national law to ban smoking in all public places?

A: I think that local communities are making enormous strides, and I think they’re doing the right thing on this. If it turns out that we’re not seeing enough progress at the local level, then I would favor a national law. I don’t think we’ve seen the local laws play themselves out entirely, because I think you’re seeing an enormous amount of progress in Chicago, in New York, in other major cities around the country. And because I think we have been treating this as a public health problem and educating the public on the dangers of secondhand smoke, that that pressure will continue. As I said, if we can’t provide these kinds of protections at the local level, which would be my preference, I would be supportive of a national law.

Q: Have you been successful in stopping smoking?

A: I have. You know, the best cure is my wife.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Take on insurance companies; drive down health care costs

My emphasis is on driving down the costs, taking on the insurance companies, making sure that they are limited in the ability to extract profits and deny coverage, and the drug companies have to do what’s right by their patients instead of simply hoarding their profits. We’ve got very conservative, credible estimates that say we can save families that do have health insurance about a thousand dollars a year, and we provide coverage for everybody else. We provide mandatory health care for children
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Allowing seniors to bulk purchase will save taxpayers’ money

Q: What do you think is wrong with the new federal prescription benefits for seniors?

A: It was fundamentally flawed as a piece of legislation. The central premise of this prescription drug bill that was passed by Bush was that the federal government, through the Medicare program, and senior citizens could not negotiate for the best possible price with the drug companies, so that they could actually get the kinds of discounts the Canadians enjoy for the drugs that are manufactured here in the US. That was done because the drug companies didn’t let it happen. What we have is a bill that’s bad for taxpayers and bad for senior citizens. Taxpayers are hit with a half-a-trillion-dollar tab that was originally estimated at three hundred billion. And about 3 weeks later, seniors have a big donut hole in the middle of their benefits. What I would do is I would say that senior citizens, through the Medicare program they can go and negotiate the best possible price as a consequence of being bulk purchasers.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Health plan cuts typical family’s premium by $2,500 a year

My plan will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year. It’s a plan that lets the uninsured buy insurance that’s similar to the kind members of Congress give themselves. And if you can’t afford that, you’ll get a subsidy to pay for it.

It goes further than any other proposed plan in cutting the cost of health care by investing in technology and preventive care so that children are getting regular check ups instead of having to go to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma, and by breaking the stranglehold of the drug companies and the insurance industries--we are tired of them dictating our health care markets--and helping businesses and families shoulder the cost of the most expensive conditions so that an illness doesn’t lead to bankruptcy. And I promise you this: I will sign a universal health care plan that covers every American by the end of my first term as president.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Ensure access to basic care

Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1998

ObamaCare passage means history; failure means powerless

Obama believed the outcome of health-care reform would profoundly affect the entirety of his presidency, and most lawmakers in Washington agreed. Pass the bill and he could become a historic president, generating the momentum to push more of his ambitious ideas through Congress. Fail and he would appear weak, even powerless.

Obama had made health care reform his top priority during his first year in office. The debate had begun to destroy Obama's campaign aspirations of bipartisanship. Republican lawmakers stood on the steps of the Capitol and waved signs that read KILL THE BILL! Democratic lawmakers accused Republicans of "fearmongering" and termed them "the party of no." Obama himself blamed Republicans for trying to twist his self-described "centrist" plan into "some kind of Bolshevik plot." As February turned into March, Obama vowed to do everything he could to pass the bill.

Source: Ten Letters, by Eli Saslow, p. 90-91 Oct 11, 2011

End partisanship and get reform done

[Health insurance reform] is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 2010

FactCheck: Unclear if Obama’s plan costs less than Clinton’s

Obama’s TV ad also makes a dubious claim when it says his plan “reduces costs more than Hillary’s” and would save $2,500 for the typical family. It’s true that Clinton claims her plan will save $2,000. But both candidates are promising savings that a number of experts say they can’t deliver. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (author of “Covering the Uninsured in the U.S.”) says, “I know zero credible evidence” supporting the campaigns’ claims of big cost savings.
Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad: “Phantom Saving” Apr 21, 2008

Need political will to accomplish universal coverage

I will be putting out a plan over the next couple of months that details how I would approach the basic principles that by the end of my first term, that we’re going to have universal health care for every single American. Some basic principles: