August 15th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama on health care reform debate: 'TV loves a ruckus'

Related: Ensuring access to health care 'an American issue,' says Hatch

(Read the text of President Obama's weekly address after the jump)

Text of President Obama's weekly radio and Web address:

This week, I’ve been traveling across our country to discuss health insurance reform and to hear directly from folks like you – your questions, your concerns, and your stories.

Now, I know there’s been a lot of attention paid to some of the town hall meetings that are going on around the country, especially those where tempers have flared. You know how TV loves a ruckus.

But what you haven’t seen – because it’s not as exciting – are the many constructive meetings going on all over the country where Americans are airing their hopes and concerns about this very important issue.

I’ve been holding some of my own, and the stories I’ve heard have really underscored why I believe so strongly that health insurance reform is a challenge we can't ignore.

They’re stories like Lori Hitchcock’s, who I met in New Hampshire this week. Lori’s got a pre-existing condition, so no insurance company will cover her. She’s self-employed, and in this economy, she can’t find a job that offers health care, so she’s been uninsured for two years.

Or they’re stories like Katie Gibson’s, who I met in Montana. When Katie tried to change insurance companies, she was sure to list her pre-existing conditions on the application and even called her new company to confirm she’d be covered. Two months later, she was dropped – after she’d already gone off her other insurance.

These are the stories that aren’t being told – stories of a health care system that works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people. And that’s why we’re going to pass health insurance reform that finally holds the insurance companies accountable.

But now’s the hard part. Because the history is clear – every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests with a stake in the status quo use their influence and political allies to scare and mislead the American people.

As an example, let’s look at one of the scarier-sounding and more ridiculous rumors out there – that so-called “death panels” would decide whether senior citizens get to live or die. That rumor began with the distortion of one idea in a Congressional bill that would allow Medicare to cover voluntary visits with your doctor to discuss your end-of-life care – if and only if you decide to have those visits. It had nothing to do with putting government in control of your decisions; in fact, it would give you all the information you need – if you want it – to put you in control of your decisions. When a conservative Republican Senator who has long-fought for even more far-reaching proposals found out how folks were twisting the idea, he called their misrepresentation, and I quote, “nuts.”

So when folks with a stake in the status quo keep inventing these boogeymen in an effort to scare people, it’s disappointing, but it’s not surprising. We’ve seen it before. When President Roosevelt was working to create Social Security, opponents warned it would open the door to “federal snooping” and force Americans to wear dog tags. When President Kennedy and President Johnson were working to create Medicare, opponents warned of “socialized medicine.” Sound familiar? Not only were those fears never realized, but more importantly, those programs have saved the lives of tens of millions of seniors, the disabled, and the disadvantaged.

Those who would stand in the way of reform will say almost anything to scare you about the cost of action. But they won’t say much about the cost of inaction. If you’re worried about rationed care, higher costs, denied coverage, or bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor, then you should know that’s what’s happening right now. In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies due to a preexisting condition, or saw their coverage denied or dropped just when they got sick and needed it most. Americans whose jobs and health care are secure today just don’t know if they’ll be next to join the 14,000 who lose their health insurance every single day. And if we don’t act, average family premiums will keep rising to more than $22,000 within a decade.

On the other hand, here’s what reform will mean for you.

First, no matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll finally be able to afford insurance. And everyone will have the security and stability that’s missing today.

Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying you coverage because of your medical history, dropping your coverage if you get sick, or watering down your coverage when it counts – because there’s no point in having health insurance if it’s not there when you need it.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or lifetime, and we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses – because no one in America should go broke just because they get sick.

Finally, we’ll require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be saving lives and dollars by catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end.

That’s what reform means. For all the chatter and the noise out there, what every American needs to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will deliver this in a fiscally responsible way.

I know there’s plenty of real concern and skepticism out there. I know that in a time of economic upheaval, the idea of change can be unsettling, and I know that there are folks who believe that government should have no role at all in solving our problems. These are legitimate differences worthy of the real discussion that America deserves – one where we lower our voices, listen to one another, and talk about differences that really exist. Because while there may be disagreements over how to go about it, there is widespread agreement on the urgent need to reform a broken system and finally hold insurance companies accountable.

Nearly fifty years ago, in the midst of the noisy early battles to create what would become Medicare, President Kennedy said, “I refuse to see us live on the accomplishments of another generation. I refuse to see this country, and all of us, shrink from these struggles which are our responsibility in our time.” Now it falls to us to meet the challenges of our time. And if we can come together, and listen to one another; I believe, as I always have, that we will rise to this moment, we will build something better for our children, and we will secure America’s future in this new century.

Related: Health care in America

Filed under: Health care • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Jane Jones

    Obama is trying all his manipulation skills to buffalo people. Fact is this:
    85% in American happy w/their Ins (rated good or excellent)
    54% of American opposed to Obama's Socialist Program, 34% agree (those who don't work and believe me some are lazy).

    We need to help thos 10 Million who legitimately need help, not the 47 million (that number is baloney and we know it).

    We have medicare for the truly poor now.
    Claiming Soc Sec is a Socialist/ Marxist Progamwhen some people have paid into this program for 50 yrs is stupid, and they have paid the 2.9^% for Medicare since 1965......when is MSNBC going to go down as their viewership is in tha tank as they sound like children as well in their attempting to denigrate good people. We are giving Soc Sec to children, and those who never paid in and I think that is wrong.

    I don't care for either party, however must tell the truth.
    Jane J

    August 15, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Get real people!

    President Obama says "And that’s why we’re going to pass health insurance reform that finally holds the insurance companies accountable."

    What industry is next? It's health care this moment; no one seems to be complaining about other industries that work to make a profit. What about companies that make and distribute food and clothing? We all need these items, is it fair they make profit on the goods they make/sell?

    I believe this administration is simply biting off too much at once and it will end up choking on it. I think they would have been better off taking and passing pieces of legislation for health care reform over their 3 1/2 years left in office. The American people might agree more with the small changes over time (Congress also needs to take its time making sure it is right and good for everyone, not just those that are uninsured).

    August 15, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. LinWA

    I have to hand it to President Obama, he faces things head on. He's right, if the media spent half as much time focusing on the TRUTH about proposed health care reform as they do reporting about the poor mislead gullible masses, we'd ALL be more informed. He's trying to do the right thing for our country but the righties will never be on board, even if they agree. The main goal is to sink Obama. I've also had it with intimidating people who feel the need to remind everyone they love their guns at town meetings. So I'm ready for Obama to remind everyone who won the election and why, whip the spineless Democrats in line, and get something done.

    August 15, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. cabianni

    Keep the Koolaid coming ACORN posters.
    No JOBS
    Nothing to show for the stimulus money
    Billions wasted
    Trillions for health care overhaul that will hurt middle class Americans

    August 15, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. Astroturf This

    Again, the president and the far-left insulting the voice of dissent. The American people know what socialism is and if this not socialism I don't know what is. Obama is a progressive liberal. You can google his speeches all day long regarding his socialist agenda and goals for this country. He has done nothing since taking office but take over private enterprise. He demonizing them and then takes them. This is SOCIALISM. This has NOTHING to do with insurance companies or health insurance for people...and has EVERYTHING to do with taking over 1/6 of the economy. The progressive movement is very clear on this intent. The American people are not stupid.

    Those evil Wall Street people...those evil banks...those evil auto companies...those evil mortgage lenders....those evil energy companies...those evil the insurance companies are evil.

    WAKE UP people. 90% of the public has good insurance and is happy with their healthcare. There is NO EMERGENCY here except for the far-left who want YOUR MONEY. The government has NO BUSINESS involving itself in our lives. This is government expansion and CORRUPTION at the very least.

    August 15, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Stella

    We absolutely need a Health Care Reform and Obama's plan is excellent,
    shame on YOU CNN for misguiding the American people and presenting more often the negative aspects in order to scare people – exactly like the radical republicans – we don't trust you anylonger –

    August 15, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Rukus Meet Socialist

    If Obama and the far-left think they can ram this healthcare bill i.e. socialist agenda on the American people and get away with it....They better call Jimmy Carter and get advice on being voted out of office and exiled for 12 years.

    This is a SOCIALIST PROGRAM. This puts into place an agenda that allows government to INTRUDE in your lives. I am not going to live in poverty because 15 million people need insurance coverage. This problem can be fixed without a 10 trillion dollar deficit.

    STOP SPENDING this country into bankruptcy.

    August 15, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Bob the employer

    These protesters are nuts! One asked the President a loaded question and he gave her a reasonable answer. CNN interviewed her and asked what she thought of the President's answer. Her answer....."I don't know, I wasn't listening to him". Another one of the lizard people!

    August 15, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. ConcernedCitizen

    This is not a right-wing conspiracy. This is the American public rising up against big government. The Democrats are dismissing this outrage and concern and they are going to pay the price. This is not the GOP or Limbaugh or Palin...this is the American public who smells a skunk when they see one.

    This is NOT a good thing for the country. Healthcare reform should be done in steps in a bipartisan fashion...not by bullying and paying people off. This administration is quickly becoming the mafia and the American public does not trust them.

    August 15, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Doug

    Of course Obama is correct, but the right will spin as if he's trying to prevent free speech. My friend went to a town hall, said something nice about the President and was then shouted down and never did get to finish. She was then yelled at and threaten in the parking lot. Her husband is now afraid for their safety. That's free speech from the right's point of view.

    August 15, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. concerned

    If Obama is so worried about health insurance, then why doesn't he just replace their upped level management like he did with the automotive industry? Or is it that they are making too much money?

    August 15, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Dennis, Amarillo Texas

    You don't hear Obama telling you what your government health care premium per month will be, you don't hear what your total cash out of pocket will be before the government will pay you a benefit, you don't hear what percentage of your Doctor or Hospital Care cost will be covered 60%, 70%, 80%, 90% or 100%, you don't hear about if you'll be required to pay your complete healthcare bill first, submit a claim second, and then how long you'll wait to have the government pay you or your Doctor/Hospital back, you don't hear about if your claims will be denied and what process you'll have to go through to protest or ask for reconsideration, you don't hear if your Doctor or Hospital will refuse to admit government insured ill, you don't know because Obama and the Democrats are going to write all this up behind closed doors, vote it through their controlled Congress, and then shove it down you throat later.

    August 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. Judge Smails

    Blah blah blah

    August 15, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. John

    During Obama's campaign the media gave him an unprecedented pass that no one else would EVER get because he was knighted as the next Camelot Golden Boy.

    Unknowingly the media put the last nail in their own coffin, we haven't had true journalist's on tv in this country in at least 30 years! These "journalalists" are nothing more than commentators usually with a very liberal bias.

    They should make prisoners watch these perky, bleach blond stepford wife "reporters" who don't know the difference between North Dakota or North Korea, reading liberal drivel off of a teleprompter.

    Now the media realizes Comrade Obama is a loose warhead and this healthcare plan is only the beginning of his agenda...

    It's a little late in the game guy's, you've destroyed your own profession and suddenly NOW, you don't want to be Obama's lacky?

    August 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Al

    Obama needs to focus on the goal, we must have the government option, or Obama has failed completely. In the first year of his Presidency, he is already facing he last chance, and paving the way for a 3 party system. The Democrats won the election, the Republicans with their corruption and greed must now be ignored. Get it done Obama.

    August 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |

    OBama is a liar. The far-left is lying to the American people and the American people know it. This is a sweeping attempt to takeover private industry in this country. In the process it is running up deficits we cannot sustain and will drive the economy into the ground. I have NO INTENTION of living a life of poverty because the liberals want to control my life and control this country. FORGET IT. This is LAND OF THE FREE. Americans are not going to allow this socialist system to be put in place and if Obama thinks he can ram it down our throats he has another thing coming. We can vote you in...and we can throw you out.

    August 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Fuastina Espinoza

    I would hope that these people who want health care reform, but not "this one", will ask a direct and sincere question to whom ever he/she is talking to during one of the home town meetings. That person can then either offer his/her opinion and thoughts on how their version of health care reform should be. Most likely, this person will not have an opinion, but is just going on what he/she is learning from the fear mongerers.

    Everything is being done to make this and all of the proposals transparent, but the critics and, I might add, the media, continue to sensationalize the most ugly and loudest news and of course feed our instinctive morbid curiousity as this will keep the ratings up and will scare the most vulnerable and guillible.

    The critics of the proposed health care reform are trying to incite anger, violence and tyranny – all in the name of Money. Let the battle begin. Tina in Tempe.

    August 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Ryan, Omaha

    A reliable, radio station in Des Moines has been reporting how their esteemed congressman is filling the seats at meetings with not only just supporters but out of state supporters. Interviewed a small business owner (50 employees) who went got in line, got a number to get a seat, and was denied access after people arrived in out of state vehicles and walked right in past the line. Thats a way to avoid a ruckus, and not get re-elected.

    August 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. CB

    How about those who work in our political arena. Are they also included in the reform on health care? Should they be the privileged few who aren't included in this 'CHANGE' that the president is bringing to our country? Just who gave them the right to have their own healthcare apart from the average American? Remember that they are suppose to be public servants but they have given themselves pay raises, perks, and a higher standard of living than the rest of the country including the best kind in healthcare which is suppose to be theirs for life.
    This would be a good test to hear them agree to the same standards that they want to impose on the rest of the country and give up what they are currently receiving.

    August 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. bruno

    Have any of you republicans/conservatives thought about the ethics in this? This isn't a game. What in the world is wrong with everyone having healthcare coverage?

    August 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Larry S

    What doesn't this stupid dork (Obie) understand??? America has spoken and the answer is no desire for health plan give-away. Will the democratic party start to realize they should be representative of the people . . . not just the unions and the welfare crowd.

    August 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. D. Tree

    The Majority of hard working Americans support you Mr. President – thank you for fighting for the working class!

    All you negative people, don't count your chickens before they hatch: when health insurance reform passes and people see how much it is helping them and their families, you are going to feel pretty dumb for opposing this reform.

    August 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. canuck

    It is hard to believe that the american people can be so gullible as to believe Obama's health care reform is not going to help them in the long run. Obviously none of these people have gotten really sick and had to pay ridiculously high medical bills. It amazes me that you won't believe a president that is actually trying to help the american people but you seem to have put your trust in the moron that was president before that lied repeatedly to them. Watch Michael Moores movie "Sicko", open your eyes you are behind much of the rest of the world with your health care system. I am Canadian and while our health care system is far from perfect, I know I will not lose everything if I get sick because of putting my trust in insurance companies whose main concern is the bottom line.

    August 15, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  24. Can't wait till 2012

    BigC, he already has raised taxes on lower income people lihe you, but you are just to well, "blind" to see it.

    Today's boogeyman by the coward in chief is TV, tommorow, who will it be? Saul Alinsky 101 oh, gutless charlatan in chief.

    AARP on board- LIE
    I never said I was for Single payer – LIE
    Republicans put in the euthanasia part of the bill – LIE


    Obama delegate Roxanna Mayer calls herself a doctor at town hall to rousing cheers and she LUBS Obamacare – LIE, she was a plant who was NOT a Doctor

    Random 11 year old girls asking questions at town hall – LIE, Mommy big Obambi supporter and again a delegate.

    One and done you gutless fraud.

    August 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  25. D. Tree

    I'd like to agree with unshrub's comment: just because you yell really loud doesn't mean you run the country. Critics are in the minority. The Majority of America voted for this reform and expects it to pass – no matter how bug if a temper tantrum the radical right throws.

    August 15, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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