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A seriously reduced tranhttp://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/http://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/script of Barack Obama’s health care speech to a joint session of Congress

Sep 10th, 2009 | By | Category: snewz

I spent an hour with my delete key cutting the fat from Barack Obama’s health care tranhttp://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/http://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/script, as found on whitehouse.gov.

I did my best to remove the rhetoric and keep only his tangible ideas on health care reform. I apologize if anyone’s favorite sections are missing, but for a clear summary of the content of his speech, I feel this is a pretty good 3-page version of his 9-page speech.

The truncated tranhttp://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/http://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/script is as follows:

There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada’s where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everybody. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end employer-based systems and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals. It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge.

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.

Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care,

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or you change your job, you’ll be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you’ll be able to get coverage. We’ll do this by creating a new insurance exchange — a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage.

For those individuals and small businesses who still can’t afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we’ll provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need. This exchange will take effect in four years. In the meantime, for those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have preexisting medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should all embrace it.

Even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers by giving them coverage. That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still can’t afford coverage, and 95 percent of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we can’t have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

There are those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This is false. The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE JOE WILSON: You lie! (Boos.)

THE PRESIDENT: It’s not true. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

My guiding principle is that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. That’s how the market works. Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company.

Insurance executives do it (cut coverage to the sick) because it’s profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill, they are rewarded for it.

I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. I just want to hold them accountable. An additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. It would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance.

Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don’t like this idea. They argue that these private companies can’t fairly compete with the government. And they’d be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won’t be.

It’s worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn’t be exaggerated. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage available for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

Some have suggested that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others have proposed a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

Finally, let me discuss how we pay for this plan.

First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits either now or in the future. There will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.

Second, we’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system.

I want to speak directly to seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue in this debate: Not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.

The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies. We will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.

Now, these steps will ensure that you, America’s seniors, get the benefits you’ve been promised. They will ensure that Medicare is there for future generations. And we can use some of the savings to fill the gap in coverage that forces too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pockets for prehttp://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/http://www.snewzbutton.com.nyud.net/2009/09/scription drugs.

Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers. This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money.

Many in this chamber have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. Defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs, so I’m proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. The Bush administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these ideas. I think it’s a good idea, and I’m directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.

Add it all up and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years. Most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent badly in the existing health care system. The plan will not add to our deficit.

We cannot fail because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.

I received a letter a few days ago from our beloved friend and colleague, Ted Kennedy. In it, he expressed confidence that this would be the year that health care reform would finally pass. He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that “it concerns more than material things.” “What we face,” he wrote, “is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

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