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. nick

    Hey Lemon, The government can and dose make a mess of almost everything it touches; but, one thing it is very good at (at least for now) under either Democrats or Republicans, is enforcing and punishing malefactors. It does not need to get everyone of them but merely to make a hideous example of a few; therefore, if health care reform place "rules" on insurance company greed, then it will be a good thing! Their own financial statements show that they are making money hand over fist gouging the American people, and it is obvious to me that if they were not making money hand over fist they would not be fighting so long, so hard and expending so much money fighting health care reform. Thus, curtail their greed and save us all from certain bankruptacy.

    March 6, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. K.K.

    Thank you Mr. President. This country is in need of Health Care Insurance Reform. Young, hardworking, and educated American's are unable to obtain the medical care they need because insurance companies DENY them coverage and the costs of medical treatment can be outrageous for those without the coverage.

    Several Congressmen would have the public believe that this push for reform is a push for welfare or some rogue government is not. It is offering the public an option to have insurance when they otherwise would not, and the option is not a free one. Generally those who live along the poverty line have some medical coverage through existing avenues.

    We pay taxes that contribute to programs for education, trash pick-up after parades, fireworks displays, and court appointed lawyers. It is a bit hypocritical as one Congressman said to live in a country that believes one has a right to a lawyer, but not a right to a doctor and necessary medical care.

    To date the insurance companies are controlling the medical world, even telling medical professionals how they can treat and how they insurance company should NEVER decide who lives or dies.

    Further, a requirement that children be insured, which is what the bill would require, is nothing new. I agree with it.

    I am a young professional, and otherwise healthy individual, but was diagnosed with one of those pesky conditions that the insurance companies do not want to deal with, so I have the “uninsurable” label.

    The US does not have healthcare for people who do not have company "group health" insurance, do not qualify for medicare/ medicaid, but have a pre-existing condition/ diagnosis that keep them from securing "private health" insurance (denial of coverage).
    Further even if you can secure it and can afford it, private health insurance does not cover maternity...only company group health insurance does that.
    ...and this is only ONE aspect of the Health Care Bill that this country needs.

    Call your Congressional Representative and tell them you want this bill passed! My family and I sure do!

    March 6, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    O-blah-blah plays "The Blame Game". Ready?

    CIGNA CIGNA bo bigna,
    Banana Fanna Fo Figna,
    Fee-Fie-Mo-Migna... CIGNA.

    Aetna Aetna bo betna,
    Banana Fanna Fo Fetna,'
    Fee-Fie-Mo-Metna... Atena.

    You're a complete moron, Obama. Live with it.

    March 6, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Ins Co profits went from $2 Billion to $12 Billion in just 4 years. I'd say they are getting wealthy while denying benefits and dropping people who have paid for years.

    March 6, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. John

    I'm 65 years old and remember well the days before medical insurance dominance. We had neighborhood doctors and well run local hospitals at a reasonable cost.

    Today, we have millionaire insurance executives that add nothing to our health care. Health care has turned into a profit over health care system that's defended by those making the most profits. Wake up America, we need to restore some integrity to our health care system and we won't get there with the republican party of no change.

    March 6, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Willy Brown

    The one to fear is Barry himself America.

    March 6, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Willy Brown

    The fact that the Obamacare bill did not pass when the Seante had S-I-X-T-Y votes only means that some democrats smell a RAT of a bill too.

    March 6, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Maggie in Canada

    TO KEVIN IN OHIO: You seem to be consumes with hate and misinformation. You may be smart but not educated. The other day when you called Canada a Socialist/Communist system, you are obviously uneducated. Before you spout that off again perhaps you should read up on those two systems. EDUCATE yourself. I doubt that you have ever set foot into our beautiful country. What you do about your hatred-well, that's for you to deal with.

    March 6, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Here's the answer, Mr. President: Health insurance CEOs know that people will go to great lengths to survive, should they or a family member/loved one get sick.

    The CEOs have us over a barrel, and they are most concerned with making money, regardless of the consequences to other people.

    Health insurance company CEOs make on average $14 million/year in salary. They spend lavishly on executive "retreats" and other such perks.

    Just because they won't admit they are greedy SOBs doesn't mean we can't see the truth for ourselves.

    March 6, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    To "Jake" and everyone else who keeps parroting the GOP/Fox line of "jam/ram/slam down our throats":

    Where have you been this last YEAR that this health care bill has been debated in the House and the Senate?

    If you'd pull your head out of your Fox TV/Limbaugh radio and actually READ the bills, you'd find that you'd agree with the vast majority of the provisions (including not excluding folks for pre-existing conditions – one of the MANY things the Republicans agree with).

    March 6, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Johnny DC

    There's no reason to even try to reach out to Liberals or Conservatives. We are so entrenched in our own ideology that there is no room for even considering the arguments of the other side.

    As a Conservative, I can only pray that my fellow Conservatives and Conservative-leaning Independent voters come out in droves on election day, mobilized in the same way that Obama mobilized the voters in 2008. Judging by the excitement (translation: anger) created by his routine shifting of policy from Capitalistic to Socialistic, I don't foresee this being much of a problem.

    March 6, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Lydia

    Go get 'em, Mr. President. I'm very glad to see the man I helped elect standing for the principles I elected him to protect. I am an American and I do want this bill, and I'm tired of seeing time go by while the President makes a laudable but futile attempt to win over the far right. A stronger and more decisive President Obama is fine by me, and I fully support his efforts.

    March 6, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    "annie against biased news" Once again, another Fox parrot goes to her keyboard and types up the latest buzz phrases.

    Exactly what "damage" has President Obama done in "little over a year"?

    Health care reform is NOT a government "take-over" of health care. You can keep your insurance policy which, if you haven't noticed, has gone up and up and up in cost over the last 10 years. If you don't mind funding the CEOs $14 million/year salaries with your premiums, you are free to continue to do so.

    The government operates the Post Office just fine. What other mail service allows you to send a letter for 44 cents?

    Health care under President Obama's plan won't be "rationed" – unlike what the health insurance companies do now, when they drop you when you get sick or exclude you when you have a pre-existing condition or determine that treatment for what ails you would cost them too much.

    Regarding bankrupting our country, that would be GW Bush you're referring to, with his irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy during wartime, taking the budget surplus he inherited from Clinton and turning it into a multi-trillion dollar deficit. President Obama is trying to fix the mess, in part by investing in our country, its people and its infrastructure (as opposed to Bush who put the money in the pockets of his cronies).

    Your last line about George Soros is just silly. I doubt you even know who Soros is ...

    March 6, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Albert R. K. . L.A., CA

    Compulsory education and Social Security offer public and private options and therefore a health care public option cannot be said to be a “government takeover” as the fear monger Republicans are chanting. Republicans held-up health care reform for over a year and now forced America to depend on the majority rule of 51/49 rather than a 60/40 vote, therefore a public option should be part of the resulting reform or else Republicans have not learned a lesson that they should work at bipartisanship. Without a public option the health care bill puts the greed of capitalism in cahoots with a compulsory system like socialism with Capitalism’s competition for contracts being replaced with a duty to sign it and Due Process of Law, before tax increases, is replaced by private rate hikes at every whim by the greedy private sector who caused this mess. A competitive public option is the best way to keep the greedy insurance providers bridled but Obama’s plan includes a clause that allows Congress to set a limit on how much they can charge so maybe it will work but that depends on how honest our Congress members are when setting the limit. With the new Supreme Court opinion allowing Corporations to “speak” in elections and lawmaking with bundles of cash as their only words it is clear the public option is the only way to keep the private sector honest.

    March 6, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. Wisconsonite - It's Not Socialism, It's SANITY

    @ annie against biased news

    If you really are against "biased news" turn off FNN! Here's some real facts for you to chew on:

    There is NO "government takeover!" What they are trying to pass is Health Insurance REFORM.

    As far as "why is this clown of a president trying to bankrupt our country?" He's NOT. What he IS trying to do is fix what the last "clown" in the White House did to "bankrupt our country".

    As far as "Government can't even operate the post office". The USPS isn't failing because of government ineptitude, it's failing because too many people, in this age of email & online bill paying, DON'T USE IT ANYMORE!

    March 6, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. CRob

    The thing people dont realize is that this bill will cause rates to go up more. Its basic economics. And last I checked how long can we keep doing 10 years of paying for 6 years of services.

    March 6, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. michaelam

    Great job parroting Beck, Limbaugh, and Fixed News' talking points! I will say that you were partially correct when you stated that states have insurance commissioners. However, they do not regulate nor investigate the health care insurance industry....that is the part that the right wing morons do not tell you! And as for your "most Americans do not want the bill, or poll after poll......yada yada" b/s, we have over 300 million people in this country and not everyone was polled. They are only "samplings" and they do not represent me or "most Americans" that I know. WE WANT REFORM. In fact, WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION to compete with this evil, vile industry.....the real DEATH PANELS!

    March 6, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Ginaandfriends

    Less vote already. Majority rules. In Miami the people want the public option. The people here can disagree without the hate. We hope fox news stop the lies and tell real news. So sad to see how far they have fallen. The respect we had for them here in Miami is no more. It's now a reality show. All opinions, no facts.

    March 6, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |

    why didny he name the ones that could explain the hikes

    look at the medical industry if you want to see unjustified pricing

    how many times do we have to pay for the r and d of a procedure before it is paid for ?

    look at the drs. pay my insurance covers a lot of my bill and the dr still wants another 85 dollars for the visit to his office to check my blood pressure and look down my throat

    hold the drs accountable too

    March 6, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. A keen observer

    As the President says, it is time to move forward on health care. The republicans are going to oppose President Obama no matter what he proposes or agrees with. They would vote against their own bill if President Obama voiced support for it. It is the stated republican goal to bring this President down. The republicans should rename their party "The Grand Old Party of the Klu Klux Klan."

    March 6, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Perusing-through

    GOD Speed President Obama.

    The GOP is watching the door shut on their chances to obstruct the American middle-class from getting healthcare reform, something that is desperately needed for millions of hardworking Americans without health coverage. With the ‘GOP-Obstruction’ door narrowing, the Hypocritical-Republicans will shamelessly stop at nothing to kill the lifesaving bill in Congress.

    May GOD Bless your endeavors Mr. President!

    March 6, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |

    hey the more we get them to depend on us the easier it will be to control them dont you agree rahm and how about you nazi and hurry it thru reid

    hurry and pass it before these stupid ones start picking up their guns and bibles
    ok i gotta go pray now . has anyone seen my rug?

    March 6, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. A disgusted former Republican

    It is people like Jake, A real lemon, cph9680, Kevin in Ohio, joe m, and annie against biased news who distort the facts and lower the discourse about healthcare reform into the gutter. They should examine the facts for themselves rather than relying on Faux News and republican politicians to spoon feed them misinformation.

    March 6, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. worriedmom

    Why doesnt he just concentrate on the ones who dont have health insurance, force them to pay and leave the rest of us alone! Or maybe if you had concentrated on jobs, people would have health insurance, but then again people not having jobs makes them rely on govt to help them out and that is exactly what he wants!

    When someone is so anxious to push things through like he has been makes one very very suspicious.

    This man has not promised the Change everyone thought he would and yet they keep on believing! Fools

    March 6, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. SLP

    You know, as I was sitting here last night reading blogs from some of you crazy people, something dawned on me. This administration has you right where they want you. You are blindly following their agenda and one of these days, it will smack you upside of the head that you have been believing in a bunch of lies. By then it will be too late. Our country will be completely gone. Those of us who question this administration's motives and see through their plea "to take care of us" will be right there with you, but we won't have that glassy eyed look of shock. We will be saying that we knew it was coming. Thank you so much to all of you idiots who voted this devious man into office just because of your all consuming hatred for George W. Bush. And for the record, I am not just bashing democrats here. The republican party is just as bad. The government was never to be "all" to Americans. The Bill of Rights is a list that was added by our Founding Fathers to promise us that these were things that our Government would never ever do. But oh well, the constitution is just an outdated document that doesn't apply to our lives today. Isn't that what everyone is saying. Keep on blindly following and cheering on this administration who wants us to be so much like Europe. Have you taken a look at Europe lately? It is a mess. Become familiar with it because that will be the life that you will be living soon. As for me, I will be teaching my children correct history that includes the true beginning of our country. Heaven knows, they won't be learning it at school. The government is too much a part of our public school system as they are with every other aspect of our lives.

    March 6, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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