August 15th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
5 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. christine from nj

    People don't want to support a bill that no one, including Obama and the Congress, really knows about. They can push the bill through, but who knows what the results will be. If you're for this particular bill then you really love Obama know-matter-what he does or you're very ignorant and don't follow the news. Isn't it funny that Obama, like all politicians, only want to push through bills that support those who financially supported him and he stays away from solutions like "tort reform" that don't benefit him financially? Politics as usual.

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

    It's nothing short of amazing to me to see that there actually people in this world who are stupid enough to believe everything the Republicans tell them. Face it you dolts, the GOP is owned by the insurance industry, health care corporations, and Pharma. They don't have your interests at heart, just their bottom line. The sooner you wake up and smell the coffee and actually read the legislation for yourself or listen to the speakers at town hall meetings, and the sooner you start asking legitimate questions instead of trying to disrupt the meetings so others can't ask questions all under the pretense of "exercising your rights as an American", the better off you'll be. On the other hand, disrupting town hall meetings is a good way for you sore losers to express your racism and outright hatred of a black president that the majority of us voted for.

    August 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. Mike1952

    Obama is a weak leader and embarrasment. He nevers says anything. Typical politician. Except this one is hell-bent on pushing my country into a socialist, statist country. Not so fast my friend. The majority is against this current health care proposal, and turning against BO. Other alternatives with less government have been proposed, but ignored, yet get no coverage or air time. What a surprise! All but Foxnews have sold out and push propaganda for the administration. Odd, most of the Foxnews personalities are liberterians but get criticized as republicans. Shows how narrow-minded some people are. I'm conservative but watch CNN too so to get the arguments of the other side. So far, on healthcare, it's just been Obozo's talking points.

    August 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  4. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    There just may well be a better way to come up with a health care plan, but the Republicans did not bother to do anything at all during Bush's reign did they? At least Obama is making the attempt, the same as Hillary did.

    August 15, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. William

    It is sad to see the level of hatred that has been generated much, but not all by conservative talk show hosts, Glen, Rush, Sean and others will fade, though not as long as they continue to make very big bucks,but their place in a very negative part of out history will remain. In my lifetime only MaCarthy came close in the US, but demagogues came forth from time to time in all countries– and they find a following–mostly of non- thinkers.

    August 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. On No You Won't

    I think "yes we can" just turned into "oh no you won't" push this down the throats of hard working Americans.

    If Medicare can cover Viagra without congressional action or legal wording...then just let them pay for end of life discussions but DO NOT write it into law. Something very fishy there.

    He can preach all he wants most Americans are seeing thru the rosy rhetoric to the socialist he is.

    August 15, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. My Fellow Americans

    Please support our President in his efforts to formulate and implement a health care plan than covers all Americans. In this way we can join the many nations who already do so for their citizens and, surprising, have no desire to emulate the bloated and corrupt profit-mongering entity we call "health care" in the U.S.

    August 15, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Worried about Health Care

    Finally, someone is actually behaving like a grown-up, thank you Mr. President. Now could we all make a concerted effort to respect our fellow Americans and discuss this like adults? Enough screaming, enough scare tactics, enough loaded language and more than enough loaded guns. Remember the goal we're trying to achieve, quality health care for all Americans, and let's work toward a compromise that makes sense for all.

    August 15, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. tf mccomb

    the current administration has no clue...if sincerely interested in helping the country they should graciously admit this, stand aside...allow someone with "leadership" ability the reigns

    August 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. Lynne

    It's ironic that the media, including CNN, can slant, invent and even pass on false information but when anyone pushes back they get their egoes out of whack. Lou Dobbs is a classic example who demonizes anyone who criticizes him or calls him out on his biased point of view.

    President Obama is completely true when he says the "media loves a ruckus" .CNN's newscasters state over and over they will get back to townhall meetings if anything "breaks out". CNN has run ads that contain lies which they have disproved, insists on running Palin's facebook meanderings without any call for her to stand before a mircophone and expalin herself and constantly rushes for a "story" without factchecking and makes no attempt to clearly state they were WRONG!!

    The only thing I have eevr agreed with Sarah Palin on is you need "to stop making things up."

    August 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. Ray E.

    Well,
    Of all the signs I have seen out there is: IF YOU THINK HEALTH CARE IS EXPENSIVE NOW JUST WAIT UNTIL IT'S FREE!

    But if you folks want Total Government Health care DON'T FORGET TO SEND THE MONEY!

    August 15, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Who Moved My Cheese

    They say, "the truth hurts". And Obama shines the light on the madness and insanity. The media (excluding MSNBC) has decided to focus on the "Big Brother in the House" mentality of ultra-conservative and ill-informed bigots. Many of these whack jobs don't even know what socialism and/or facism is.

    I have employer provided health care in which my premiums, deductibles and co-pays continue to increase year-over-year; while what is and what is not covered under these insurance plans constantly change. Our health-care system ranks 37th in the world! Why is that?

    President Obama has decided to treat the American populace as concerned adults, who have real issues that need to be addressed. However, our mass media (or lack there-of) continue to cover out-right lies and falsehoods without pointing them out.

    Who knew that American has an underbelly of racists and bigots, who would rather give up a better way of life; then to allow an African-American & White president to shine and implement much needed social, institutional and governmental change.

    August 15, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Marian

    This debate isn't new. More than 200 years ago, James Madison opposed the proposal to put Congress in the role of promoting the general welfare according to its whims in these words:

    If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasure; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor. . . . Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for [and it was an issue then], it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America. [quoted in Donald L. Newquist, Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, p. 342]

    August 15, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Lisa from Tampa

    We MUST stop the spread of ignorance. These people never voted for Obama anyway.....but are gaining media attention. Does the media want this to fail? Will these antics continue EVERY time a proposition is put up that they don't want or cry socialism? Do they want ZERO change? Does the right wing and uneducated have this country so spun up they they feel the need to misinform the elderly? That is just sick. We FINALLY have a brilliant and vibrant President and we choose to capitulate to an uneducated hair brain from Alaska and a drug addicted Entertainer?? Do people NOT study history? Reublicans under Bush spent money like drunken sailors, yet they are the masterminds of communicating how Democrats will spend, spend, spend-ABSURD! And Democrats–yes you won....behave like you did and start LEADING instead of bowing to these ignorant people!!

    CNN Please print this note

    August 15, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Help me to understand !!!!!

    How can any nation denied a health care for their own people ?
    Were is the morals ?
    Every country should provide a free health care and education to it's
    people like they do in Europe and many places in the world...

    August 15, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Phil

    Sorry, but people are exercising their constitutional right to protest. Obama and his stooges don't want to hear the truth that the majority of the people do not want this "reform" package they are touting. Why is it Obama always redirects if people do not agree with him? So much for democracy. I guess we must bow to Obama and company.

    August 15, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. danel

    Why the healthcare reforms ONLY falls on DEM presidents? From Johnson, Kennedy, Clinton and now Obama? Maybe because the DEMS got balls to do it and GOP had mouth to oppose it. Let see who wins this time.

    August 15, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. John

    It is so refreshing to have a President that goes out to the public and makes a clear case for his policy proposals, and who holds public forums and listens to what the people have to say. What a contrast from our previous President! With Obama making the case and responding very directly to the critics of his ideas, as he did in Montana and New Hampshire, I am becoming very confident that much-need reform to the health care system will pass, despite the noise and lies being stirred up by the opposition.

    August 15, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Wake Up

    Obama's strategy:
    Only gloss over details so they all look good and then bash the enemies. What a disappointment. He is so offended by opposition, he obviously thinks he is a dictator. What a political beast.

    August 15, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Jack

    If the Republican's do not like the health care plans being discussed, why didn't they enact health care reform in the past eight years, especially in the years when they had a majority in Congress? If you had wanted it done your way, you could have had it your way. Obviously, the fact that so many Americans, including my sister and her family, are without health care is not a concern of the conservatives. After all, "those people" without health care probably vote Democrat anyway.

    August 15, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Weezer

    "The media obviously supports the defeat of health
    care reform and support of the republicans, but, could we at least see an attempt to be a little fair and a little balanced??"

    Could you be any more clueless? The angry protesters are shown to paint the Conservatives as obstructionists, racists, and more. The media has fallen all over themselves broadcasting Obama's town hall infomercials and not asking the hard questions. Nearly every story we read regarding health care are scare stories such as the ones about more bankruptcies being because of illness.

    The only exception to this would be Fox News. They are certainly out to get him.

    August 15, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Flash in the Pan

    Translation: "Would everybody just settle down and do what I say?"

    August 15, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. clr

    I think it is a hoot. The Democrats just can't get out of their own way. Senator Nelson, in Florida – one of the largest retire States in the nation won't even go to a town hall, which just gets his constituents even more angry.

    The Democrats are demeaning the protestors, bringing in Acorn, Unions, etc – which just gets Obama's moderate constituents who are turning away – MORE angry.

    Obama is going out to these town halls and boring people to death, continuing to talk in that arrogant, tilted-head finger pointed way, and GIVING NO DETAILS... and it is just angering the Democrat moderate constituents who are turning away – even more!

    The Democrats plant a young girl in the town hall to ask a question, whose mother is an Obama campaign person. A Congress woman yaps on a phone while a cancer survivor tries to ask her a question in a town hall -and then plants a fake doctor to make a positive statement on the plan in the SAME town hall (proven – with confession)! etc etc etc

    So, my advise to the Democrats... keep it up! Just keep talking down to the citizens, and let the sheeple start opening their eyes. Most voted AGAINST Bush, not FOR Obama – and the voodoo spell is starting to wear off – the zombies are waking up. For those of us Independents who voted for Mickey Mouse – we are rolling in the aisles right now.

    August 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  24. Ryan

    Oh, does the poor baby not like it when the media focuses on someone other than him? Maybe if you got out of the way of the camera and did some more work you could balance the budget.

    August 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. George Nuckols

    Health Care or insurance? Don't get the two confused, because insurance is just another word for tax as far as I'm conserned and if I am forced to buy insurance I don't want then that is Taxation Without Representation. And just so you know I did vote for Obama. When was the last time you felt like your car insurance was worth what you are forced to pay, well this mandate for us all to buy health insurance is the same blueprint. If you want to reform healthcare start with some insurance execs in front of a federal grand jury, some long prison terms (in general population) and give me a Public OPTION and if it is a good deal I will decide.

    August 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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