March 6th, 2010
10:59 AM ET
8 years ago

Obama singles out insurance companies

Washington (CNN) - In the weekly White House address released Saturday, President Obama singled out insurance companies for rising health care costs and said, "The proposal we've put forward would end the worst practices of the insurance industry."

The President said the enactment of health care reform is "very close," adding that action is necessary to prevent insurance companies from raising premiums.

"I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn't give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums – by as much as 60% in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this," Obama said.

Read President Obama's full statement below:

This week, I asked Congress to schedule a final vote on reform that will give families and businesses more control over their health care by holding insurance companies more accountable. This comes after nearly a year of debate, as well as a seven hour summit with Democrats and Republicans where we had a public and substantive discussion on health care. Since then, I've said that I'm willing to incorporate some ideas offered by Republicans, and we're eliminating special provisions that had no place in health care reform.

Now, despite all the progress and improvements we've made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren't starting over. I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn't give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums – by as much as 60% in states like Illinois. If we do not act, they will continue to do this. They will continue to drop people's coverage when they need it. They will continue to refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions. These practices will continue.

That's why we must act now. That's why the United States Congress owes the American people an up-or-down vote on health insurance reform.

The proposal we've put forward would end the worst practices of the insurance industry, lower costs for millions of Americans, and give uninsured individuals and small businesses the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. And while it will take a few years to fully implement these reforms, there are numerous protections and benefits that would start to take effect this year.

This year, small business owners will receive tax credits to purchase health insurance.

This year, thousands of uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions will finally be able to purchase coverage. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. And they will no longer be allowed to drop your coverage when you get sick.

This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers – so that we can start catching preventable illnesses and diseases on the front end. There will no longer be lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care you receive. Young adults will be able to stay on their parents' insurance policy until they're 26 years old. And there will be a new, independent appeals process for anyone who feels they were unfairly denied a claim by their insurance company.

Finally, seniors who fall into the gap in coverage known as the donut hole will receive $250 to help them pay for their prescriptions.

What won't change when this bill is signed this: if you like the insurance plan you have now, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Because nothing should get in the way of the relationship between a family and their doctor.

If we act now, all of this will happen this year. Millions of lives will improve. Some will be saved. Many families and small business owners will have health insurance for the very first time in their lives. Doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. This future is within our grasp.

But we also know what the future will look like if we don't act – if we let this opportunity pass for another year, or another decade, or another generation. More Americans will lose their family's health insurance if they switch jobs or lose their job. More small businesses will be forced to choose between health care and hiring. More insurance companies will raise premiums and deny coverage. And the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid will sink our government deeper and deeper into debt.

I don't accept that future for the United States of America. I know it has been a long and hard road to this point. And we are not finished with our journey just yet. But we are close. We are very close. And so I ask Congress to finish its work. I ask them to give the American people an up or down vote. And let's show our citizens that it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future. Thanks for listening.

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Jake

    What part of America does not want this bill as is does he not understand?He will cram this as well as his personal socialist agenda down our throats.He is a FOOL & a LIAR.

    March 6, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. joe m

    the president has been palying this smart by villifying the insurance industry. americans want a face to associate with their woes. the insurance industry has made is easy for the president to portray them as the source of the problems by their policies and actions. in truth this is a far more complex problem that wherein the insurance companies are only but one of the palyers. other actors include the pharmacy companies, doctors and hospitals, healthcare industry workers, unions, governement systems and agencies, and of course lawyers. let us not forget in this long list, the american patient as well. reform needs to address the role each of these groups play, rather than simply laying all the blame on one group. this approach is like trying to improve one's car gas mileage by simply saying that the problem is the result of driving a particular brand. one can purchase another brand, but if the type of vehicle remains the same then actual relief cannot be expected. a truck from one company is frankly no better with gas mileage whether is it made by one manufacturer or another. there are also the considerations of driving habits.

    i'd like to give the president credit for trying to solve a real pressing issue, but sadly what i see is that he is simply playing politics. some of the ceasars, to maintain the loyalty of roman citizens, told the citiznery that the christians were to blame for their woes. others ion history have doen the same. the president is just continuing a legacy that solves nothing.

    March 6, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |

    If you buy 7 Ford F-150s and all are LEMONS-do you continue to buy them?What has the government done correct-everything they touch goes belly up.How is this any different.NObamadoodle is a FOOL & a LIAR.

    March 6, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Wisconsonite - It's Not Socialism, It's SANITY

    Keep after them, Mr. President! Also pressure the US Senate to vote on the bill ending Anti-Trust exemption for the Insurance industry. The bill which has passed the house with over-whelming support and now sits in the US Senate without being voted on because Republi-WON'TS are blocking the vote!

    March 6, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. mk

    Premiums were raised in Indiana too, 38%. The head of anthem/wellpoint made 9 million dollars last year, for what? Brain surgery? Did she cure cancer? Did she save on single life? Nope, she pushes paper around a desk, files her nails and makes a fortune off the backs of those who have no choice but to pay her company what it charges. It is greed, pure and simple.

    IF the public thinks for one second that the cost of heathcare is too high it is not the fault of the hospitals and docors in them. It is the cost of the Angela Braleys of this world. She takes her cut right off the top and forces the rest of us to scramble. I could do with a few less greedy paper pushers and a few more doctors.

    I also support a public option. Too many people go without healthcare. By the people, for the people.

    March 6, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. cph9680

    Right on! You keep demonizing the business industry! That's the way to win the hearts and minds of the people.
    At least your base of worthless parasites will love you for it...

    March 6, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Kevin in Ohio

    Yep.... its the big bad evil insurance companies. Must be, because while, yeah, they pay out all those dollars to doctors, hospitals, defrauders, and lawyers, they turn around and, oh my God, collect premiums to pay for it! Shame on them for not having money growing trees like the U.S.Government.

    Obama...get a clue on how things WORK in this economy.

    March 6, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    If the bill passes insurance companies aren't going to cut back those rates. The insurance companies in so many words are telling the American people, take it or leave it.

    March 6, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Sue

    The STATES regulate/investigate the insurance companies---it does NOT need to be Obama and the federal government.

    Each state has an insurance commission.

    November cannot get here fast enough--and the elections in November are going to make history!!! Never in one election, will we see as many Democrats sent to the unemployment lines.

    March 6, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. if I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    When when the fools and liars that make up the right wingnuts wake up and realize the crap they repeat from Fox is not true? The majority of Americans know that health reform is necessary and want it done.

    March 6, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. John

    Obama singles out insurance companies

    Obama and anyone else interested in the health care debate might begin by explaining why the health insurance mean ...industry.... is exempt from anti-trust legislation.

    March 6, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Lynn

    I just wish the vote would be taken, the sooner the better so we finally can get health insurance reform in America. Having a leukemia survivor in our family and according to the insurance companies, will always be uninsurable, is criminal and sickening. The companies technically should be prosecuted for raping the American public. That goes for the medical companies that charge outrageous prices for their equipment and supplies, all in the name of profits for shareholders.

    March 6, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. JLM

    The Insurance industry is run by liars and crooks, that is why reform is needed.

    March 6, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. wait a minute

    The only way to fix private health insurance companies is to outlaw profits for basic coverage. If there is a surplus, it should be returned to subscribers as reduction for next year's premiums.

    It is laughable for the Senate to keep anti-trust exempt for the private insurers. This is supposed to be the world's beacon for democracy. How can we tolerate such unfair protection for health insurance companies in the 21st century?

    March 6, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. bts

    The only people CRAMMING things (Lies, distortions, fears) down our throats are the Republicans. There is a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate as well as a Democratic President, who BLESS his heart, is actually trying to engage Republican input into the process. Obama doesn't HAVE to, but he chooses to include them. Instead of acting like adults and appreciating the olive branch he's offering, they're acting like petulant children who can't get their own way. And what's really sad is that people are hurting and need help, and they don't care. My prayers are with this country and it's leaders everyday. People are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Just don't take people's word for things, read for yourselves.

    March 6, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Jon from: S.Carolina

    The insurance industry needs to be dealt with. They're crooks with the Gop, & teabaggers in their back pocket.

    March 6, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. joel

    My Ins. Company is Aetna I assume that they will burn in hell, those of you that don't want health care reform can join them!

    March 6, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. BobH.

    It's the nature of the insurance business to minimize risk (deny coverage) and maximize the price of premiums. While the President is trying to be a centrist and include them in his attempt to lower rates and increase coverage, it's going to be about as difficult as making a snake ride a bicycle. They're just not equipped for the job. It would be ideal to find a path to expanded Medicare for All, with private insurance available for those who wish to pay extra or it.

    And Jake, BTW, the term "cram this bill down our throat" is a euphemism for "I watch only Fox and will mindlessly repeat everything they say."

    March 6, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  19. annie against biased news

    The insurance companies should be given Sainthood when you compare them to all the damage the so-called president has done in little over a year. There should be health care reform NOT government takeover! Try a few corrections, see how they work then go on to some other corrections – see how they work. Government can't even operate the post office let alone government rationed health care! One question – why is this clown of a president trying to bankrupt our country? Is he aiding and abetting george soros or his he just plain stupid?

    March 6, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  20. ATL Guy

    The President needs to let people know that his proposal makes insurance practices illegal while the Republicans basically allow these practices to continue unabated. The Republicans will put the responsibility on the states to setup high risk pools to offer expensive insurance to people dropped by the insurance companies. I don't see how people aren't apalled by this. I think that the best that could happen for Obama is to have the Republicans take control of the House and Senate because then they'll have to write legislation. Anything they write must be done in front of CSpan cameras and must be scored by the CBO. That's when people will see what the Republican Party is all about.

    March 6, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Lemon, Joe and Jake- Guys, what news and fact are you reading?
    Lemon- The bailout saved 10's of thousands of jobs and companies. GM will have paid back the loan by June ( reported yesterday) and the pensions of workers will have been re-funded. The banks that have been bailed out are still open and people have kept their jobs without the financial destruction to our system than happened in 1920.
    Joe- politics? Probably. But the bipartisan response hoped for did not happen. The lies and destortions put out there to turn Americans against the plan hindered passage. Sometimes you play a game to make good things happen.
    Jake- I see you've read the manifesto of the haters. There is nothing socialistic about the healthcare bill. In fact before it became a poltical football 80 % of the bill was acceptable to Republication in Congress.
    Abortion, single payor and public options are what became talking points. Yet whent he bill is discussed issue by issue, Americans want the reform by 70-80% of the country. Only when its mentioned as " the Presidents healthcare bill" is there a negative- and then people can't even give facts as to why!

    March 6, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Darrell

    To joe m...playing politics? Have you heard or seen the Republican throughout all of this situation...Man, give me a break! The President is the best that he can and trying to help people like me, a small business owner, try to afford healthcare for myself. I cannot expand my business because I cannot to pay for healthcare for employees. The Healthcare Industry is making big profits and hiking up prices on individuals and small companies like mine...they are not playing politics...they are just greedy. In terms of cramming this bill, remember both bodies of Congress have all passed it. Please get your facts straight and stop spreading fears.

    March 6, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. D.D.

    We need a break. My insurance went from 250 to 500 and 80/20.

    March 6, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  24. wait a minute

    As China moves on to launch their first space station module in 2011, reported on New York Times last week, we are still wasting our time debating whether or not we should keep the communist Chinese way of treating our citizens like theirs as far as health care is concerned. The Chinese are learning good things from us, while we are fighting to keep their current health care system with very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills.

    When health care costs suck up more than 16% of our GDP, we will have little resources for NASA. Our 2008 health care spending was 2.8 trillions. Our 2010 budget for NASA is 18.7 billions, which is not even 1% of our 2008 health care spending.

    March 6, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. El Gordo

    A real lemon (Jake) wrote: "What has the government done correct?"

    Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Fire Departments, Police Departments, Air Traffic Control, Public Libraries, Public Schools, Public Colleges and Universities, FBI, CIA, Restaurant Inspections, Prisons, Disaster Response (except Katrina of course), Food and Drug Administration, Weather Bureau, Medicare, Medicaid, Environmental Protection Agency, FDIC, Federal Aviation Administration, Road Construction, Bridge Construction, National Park System, Wildlife Conservation Agency, General Services Administration, Geological Survey, General Accounting Office, West Point, US Navel Academy, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution. Air Force Academy, Maritime Administration, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards, OSHA, OMB, Patent Office, Peace Corps, Social Security Administration, Border Patrol, and US Customs, to name just a few of my favorites.

    I certainly trust my government more than I trust the corporation I work for. I trust my government more than I trust my bank, my phone company, my electric company, any oil company, any global corporation, any construction company (!!!), any accounting firm, any any brokerage firm, or any advertising agency.

    March 6, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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