January 9th, 2010
06:56 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama: 'We are on the verge of passing health insurance reform'

Full text of President Obama's weekly address, as released by the White Houe:

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
January 9, 2010

A year ago, when I took office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I promised you two things. The first was that there would be better days ahead. And the second was that the road to recovery would be long, and sometimes bumpy.

That was brought home again yesterday. We learned that in November, our economy saw its first month of job gains in nearly two years – but last month, we lost more than we gained. Now, we know that no single month makes a trend, and job losses for the final quarter of 2009 were one-tenth what they were in the first quarter. But until we see a trend of good, sustainable job creation, we will be relentless in our efforts to put America back to work.

That task goes even deeper than replacing the seven million jobs that have been lost over the past two years. We need to rebuild our economy in such a way that our families can feel a measure of security again. Too many of the folks I've talked with this year, and whose stories I read in letters at night, tell me that they've known their own private recessions since long before economists declared one – and they'll still feel the recession long after economists have declared it over.

That's because, for decades, Washington avoided doing what was right in favor of doing what was easy. And the result was an economy where some made out well, but the middle class too often took a beating.

Over the past decade, the income of the average household actually declined, and we lost as many jobs as we created. Hardworking folks who did everything right suddenly found themselves forced to downscale their dreams because of economic factors beyond their control. We're talking about simple dreams. American dreams. A good job with a good wage. A secure and dignified retirement. Stable health care so you don't go broke just because you get sick. The chance to give our kids a better shot than we got.

That's why, as we begin to emerge from this crisis, we will not return to the complacency that helped cause it. Even as we focus on putting America back to work today, we're building a new foundation for our economy to create the good, lasting jobs and shared prosperity of tomorrow.

We're making historic investments in science and in a clean energy economy that will generate and keep the jobs and industries of the future right here in America.

We're reforming our education system, so that our kids are fully prepared to compete with workers anywhere in the world and win the race for the 21st century.

We're fixing our broken health insurance system that's crushing families, eating away at workers' take-home pay, and nailing small businesses with double-digit premium increases.

And that's what I'd like to focus on for a minute. After a long and thorough debate, we are on the verge of passing health insurance reform that will finally offer Americans the security of knowing they'll have quality, affordable health care whether they lose their job, change jobs, move, or get sick. The worst practices of the insurance industry will be banned forever. And costs will finally come down for families, businesses, and our government.

Now, it'll take a few years to fully implement these reforms in a responsible way. But what every American should know is that once I sign health insurance reform into law, there are dozens of protections and benefits that will take effect this year.

Uninsured Americans with a pre-existing illness or condition will finally be able to purchase coverage they can afford.

Children with pre-existing conditions will no longer be refused coverage, and young adults will be able to stay on their parents' policy until they're 26 or 27 years old.

Small business owners who can't afford to cover their employees will be immediately offered tax credits to purchase coverage.

Early retirees who receive coverage from their employers will see their coverage protected and their premiums go down.

Seniors who fall into the coverage gap known as the donut hole will receive discounts of up to 50 percent on their prescriptions as we begin to close that gap altogether.

And every patient's choice of doctor will be protected, along with access to emergency care.

Here's what else will happen within the first year. 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. They'll no longer be allowed to impose restrictive annual limits on the amount of coverage you receive or lifetime limits on the amount of benefits you receive. They'll be prohibited from dropping your coverage when you get sick and need it most. And there will be a new, independent appeals process for anyone who feels they were unfairly denied a claim by their insurance company.

In short, once I sign health insurance reform into law, doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. All told, these changes represent the most sweeping reforms and toughest restrictions on insurance companies that this country has ever known. That's how we'll make 2010 a healthier and more secure year for every American – for those who have health insurance, and those who don't.

We enter a new decade, now, with new perils – but we're going to meet them. It's also a time of tremendous promise – and we're going to seize it. We will rebuild the American Dream for our middle class and put the American economy on a stronger footing for the future. And this year, I am as hopeful and as confident as ever that we're going to rise to this moment the same way that generations of Americans always have: as one nation, and one people. Thanks for listening.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. anonymous

    great! now we candrive all drs out of biz and make sure it takes 0 rs for somone to get care. way to go!

    January 9, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. ib

    Healthcare rationing for senior citizens is what he is passing. And watch your current costs for healthcare go sky high. This should be DOA; nothing but gov. takeover with rationing for seniors. Pathetic

    January 9, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Verge

    Yes Obama, you are on the verge of dragging this nation into the depths of Socialism.

    January 9, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. Tammy

    ib and anonymous must have excellent, accessible honest health care. I wish that they and their family never get seriously ill.

    January 9, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. annie s

    Thank you to our President for everything his administration has done to pull our country back from the brink of disaster. I don't particularly like the health care bill that will probably pass – no competition for the greedy for profit insurers and too long a time to implement regulatory reforms – but even in it's weakened form, it's a huge first step and I applaud the Democrats for getting this far.

    January 9, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. mockingbird

    I've never seen anything suffer from disinformation as much as the arguments against health care reform. A friend of mine called me and told me that it meant the government was taking over hospitals. Please.

    I've been sick in a country (Haiti) that had no public health care. I've been sick in one (Japan) that does. Believe me - we're better off with health care reform and some form of public health care. Even if it isn't perfect - and it won't be - we can still build upon the concept. This is not a step toward socialism - it's a step toward society.

    January 9, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. jh

    your "health insurance reform" bills are garbage. nobody wants THIS reform.

    January 9, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Allie F.

    The Obama administration and the Dems in congress are the most corrupt government in the history of this country. For their self-serving interest, they are bankrupting this country and her citizens. Their arrogance and defiance of the public will is a travesty. They are leading this country into a third world socialist state.

    RE-ELECT NO ONE....it is time to clean up Washington DC. Obama needs to be impeached for dereliction of duty and violation of his oath of office. The is nothing but a common criminal, not to mention clueless and delusional.

    We will not survive Obama's four year term. It appears there is no one in Congress with ethics, honor, credibility or respect for our Constitution or democracy.

    January 9, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Obama The Greatest Ever

    It is amazing how ignorant Republicans are about socialism and about health care. Why haven't they been spewing off about susidized oil companies, corporate farmers, MacDonalds, numerous other corporations and small businesses, that is socialism which has been around forever. There is no such thing as Capitalism in the US, Get over it. We love you Obama and the majority of people love you, have faith in you and want you to succeed. Please help get these Republicans educated and send them to college to learn how to think on their own, Rush Limbaugh just doesn't cut it.

    January 9, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Now is the time to question the republican party's patriotism.

    January 9, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. all the news that's fit to omit

    His medical advisor is Rahm's brother and he believes in rationing healthcare to young babies and elderly people and worrying mainly about the people in between as he deems them "more worthy" and this is a FACt and for you sheep look it up, HE ACTUALLY PUBLISHED HIS THOUGHTS.

    Must have missed the debate on C-SPAN liar in chief, is that like the "Nobody making less that 250,000 will see their taxes raised one penny" lie as this bill is loaded with taxes and fees?

    How about the whopper about it being unamerican in taxing health benefits when McCain said it, BUT NOW HE IS?

    You sheep are being duped, but sheep are stupid and can't think for themselves, "see the cliff, go jump off, good sheep".

    January 9, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. T

    It is anything but "insurance reform"! More like robbing from working people to pay for the lazy and illegals! I suppose I better start looking for health insurance now as what I have now is due to be eliminated by the senate, but those slackers get free care forever, talk about needing to equalize care!

    January 9, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Doug

    My President Obama, I worked for you in five states last year and you now say that after the biggest payouts to lobbyists in the history of Coongress, you are seizing PROMISE. Your distortions and political WORD CHANGE will cause more unintended consequences than you can ever count. Our nation is broke and drifting, you are holding up your rich Ivy League college friends, the truth will set us free as was said by a wise man. Yes, I am a lifelong democrat and I am going to work for change.

    January 9, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Jane

    His statement should read we are "on the verge of screwing the amercian people".

    January 9, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Lynne in CA

    The same fear and smear campaigns were pontificated by the Republicans when social security and medicare were created. While not perfect, those programs have been the saving grace for a majority of senior citizens. Too many of our homeless veterans are on the streets because previous Republican administrations cut mental health services and closed veterans hospitals. There is no greater travesty than ignoring the plight of the veteran. President Obama understands the needs of average Americans and has compassion for the poor and less fortunate. This health care bill is a start. The status quo of continued abuse and malfeasance by the insurance industry is not acceptable for any human being.

    January 9, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. U.S. Common Sense

    You can keep your health care non-reform package as well as your Trillion dollar debt swell, thank you very much.

    January 9, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  17. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    It is time for the right wingnuts who get their lies from Fox to take a deep breath, and join in fixing the broken health system. This is about 45 million of our fellow Americans who are uninsured, and the 45,000 who die each year without insurance or affordable health care.

    If we do not let the Bush tax cuts expire and reform health care, our national debt will become insurmountable over the next ten years.

    January 9, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Unlike some posters here, I actually read the President's remarks. The only ones who will suffer from health care reform are the insurance company CEOs who will somehow have to live on less than the $14 million (on average) annual salary they now enjoy.

    January 9, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. ThinkAgain

    I especially like the provision for health insurance companies to offer preventive care at no cost.

    This health insurance reform will be a very good thing for our country because:

    Everyone knows that preventive medicine is a lot cheaper than severely ill people showing up at the emergency room; everyone knows that if small business don't have to spend as much money on insuring their workers, they have more to invest in their business; and everyone knows that workers are more productive if they don't have to worry about losing everything should they or someone in their family becomes ill.

    Health care reform will result in a healthier, more productive populace. This is a win-win for both families and business.

    January 9, 2010 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. proud conservative

    I love how Obama now wants to call it "health insurance reform" rather than health care reform because he thinks we are ALL idiots. He wants to change health care when there is nothing wrong with our health care system. It is the best in the world. The ones who are complaining are the ones who want something for nothing!

    January 9, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. jules sand-perkins

    Some of these comments are breathtaking.
    What astounding arrogance and ignorance is shown by liberals' stating that conservatives do not know what socialism is and then starting in with, "Webster says..."
    A staggering number of these liberal writers cannot spell four-letter words, think that "you're" is written "your," and are counfounded by the formation of plural nouns. Worse, their personal definition of "ignorance" is the failure to worship President Obama in his divine wisdom and omniscience.

    January 9, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  22. jules sand-perkins

    The President's "remarks" above are another of his endless campaign speeches. The eyes of any thinking person begin to glaze over whenever President Obama begins one–any person thinking, that is, about anything other than how he can add at least one additional "my check" to his monthly stack of government handouts.

    If you got good socialized medical treatment in Japan or somewhere else, THINK about how many citizens there actually WORK compared to the citizens of our country. If everybody gets free or cheap health care, the money has to come from somewhere.

    January 9, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Keith in Austin

    When Barry's lips are moving you can bet his words are wrought with half truths and misleading information! If YOU truly want something ruined, put a liberal in charge!

    I would rather SEE what is really going on in a transparent viewing on CSPAN than trust anything this teleprompter-reading empty suit has to say!

    January 9, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Ethan

    Republicans have proven themselves ignorable. This health care reform bill is going to be extremely popular when it actually goes into effect.

    January 9, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. C w

    The republicans enjoy killing at least 200 thousand american people a year out of health care because the republicans enjoy seeing non white people suffer and they want to build concentration camps instead of hospitals because republicans are neo nazis

    January 9, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
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