President Obama used Tuesday night’s annual State of the Union address to urge more Americans to enroll in the new insurance exchanges.
The video excerpt above includes the president’s remarks about health policy and the rollout of the 2010 health law.
A transcript follows.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard: We’re in the process of fixing that.
A pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1, she got covered. On January 3, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would have meant bankruptcy.
That’s what health insurance reform is all about: the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.
Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans.
More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage. Nine million.
And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American – none, zero – can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, or back pain, or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.
Now, I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.
And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Now, Kentucky is not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. But he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families. “They are our friends and neighbors,” he said. “They are people we shop and go to church with: farmers out on the tractors, grocery clerks. They are people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.”
Steve’s right. That’s why, tonight, I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31. Help them get covered. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It’ll give her some peace of mind – plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you.