More headlines: Barack Obama on Health Care

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FactCheck: Healthcare costs cause one bankruptcy per minute

Obama said, "We must also address the crushing cost of health care. This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds."

Data show about 934,000 personal bankruptcies in FY 2008. There are about 32 million seconds in a year. So someone filed for bankruptcy roughly every 30 seconds last year. But even a very high estimate would only attribute half of those personal bankruptcies to medical expenses. So that's one health-related bankruptcy every minute at most.

Source: on 2009 State of the Union address Feb 24, 2009

FactCheck: McCain’s plan taxes employees, not employers

Obama & McCain traded incorrect statements on each other’s health care plan.

Obama said, “You may end up getting a $5,000 tax credit. Here’s the only problem: Your employer now has to pay taxes on the health care that you’re getting from your employer. McCain’s plan doesn’t call for taxing employers on health care benefits; it would instead tax employees. As the law stands now, employees don’t pay taxes on the dollar value of their health insurance benefits. Under McCain’s plan, they would.

McCain also misrepresented Obama’s plan when he said that his opponent favored “handing the health care system over to the federal government.” McCain made a similar claim in his acceptance speech, when he said that Obama’s plans would “force families into a government run health care system.” We called it false then and we stand by that. Obama’s plan mandates coverage for children, but not for adults, and it does not require anyone to be covered by a nationalized system.

Source: on 2008 first Presidential debate Sep 26, 2008

Guaranteed health care for anyone who needs it

I’ll end the outrage of one in five African Americans going without the health care they deserve. We’ll guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and ensure that the quality of your health care does not depend on the color of your skin. And we’re not going to do it 20 years from now or 10 years from now, we’re going to do it by the end of my first term as President.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention Jul 12, 2008

1998: Passed 11 bills on healthcare and child welfare issues

In 1999, the first year of Obama's second term was his most successful yet. Obama co-sponsored almost 60 bills, of which 11 became law, almost one each month. The measures focused on health care and child welfare: increased funding for after-school programs, tightened scrutiny of nursing homes, and improved training in the use of heart defibrillators are examples. With Democrats in the minority, Obama's bills required Republican support for passage; many garnered substantial bipartisan majorities.
Source: Obama for Beginners, by Bob Neer, p. 33 Apr 1, 2008

Hillary’s plan must either be enforced, or leave out people

CLINTON: Sen. Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not. My plan will cover everyone and it will be affordable. And on many occasions, independent experts have concluded exactly that.

Source: 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

The problem with health care is about affordability

The problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care; the problem is they can’t afford it. My plan emphasizes lowering costs, not only setting up a government plan so that people who don’t have health insurance can buy into it and will get subsidized, but also making sure that those who have health insurance but are struggling with rising co-payments, deductibles, premiums. Under Bush, families are paying 78% more on health care than they were previously. We put in a catastrophic re-insurance plan that will help reduce those premiums for families by an average of about $2,500 per year. Every expert that’s looked at this has said there is not a single person out there who’s going to want health care who will not get it under my plan. My plan also says children will be able to stay on the parents’ plan up until the age of 25. Both Edwards and Hillary have a hardship exemption, where, if people can’t afford to buy health care, you exempt them, so that you don’t count them.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

Bring GOP & Dems together to make healthcare affordable

Text on screen: “Obama offers universal health care plan.” Obama speaking:

“I’ll be a president who finally makes health care affordable to every single American by bringing Democrats and Republicans together. I’ll be a president who ends the tax break for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans. And I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. We are one nation and our time for change has come.”

Source: AdWatch on 2008 TV ad in Nevada, “President” Jan 17, 2008

Help young people deal with the cost of medical education

We’ve got to deal with the cost of medical education. We have to deal with college costs generally, and that’s why I put forward proposals to get banks and middle men out of the process and expand national service to encourage young people to go into these helping professions where we need a lot more work.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Allowing seniors to bulk purchase will save taxpayers’ money

Q: What do you think is wrong with the new federal prescription benefits for seniors?

A: It was fundamentally flawed as a piece of legislation. The central premise of this prescription drug bill that was passed by Bush was that the federal government, through the Medicare program, and senior citizens could not negotiate for the best possible price with the drug companies, so that they could actually get the kinds of discounts the Canadians enjoy for the drugs that are manufactured here in the US. That was done because the drug companies didn’t let it happen. What we have is a bill that’s bad for taxpayers and bad for senior citizens. Taxpayers are hit with a half-a-trillion-dollar tab that was originally estimated at three hundred billion. And about 3 weeks later, seniors have a big donut hole in the middle of their benefits. What I would do is I would say that senior citizens, through the Medicare program they can go and negotiate the best possible price as a consequence of being bulk purchasers.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

FactCheck: Unclear if Obama’s plan costs less than Clinton’s

Obama’s TV ad also makes a dubious claim when it says his plan “reduces costs more than Hillary’s” and would save $2,500 for the typical family. It’s true that Clinton claims her plan will save $2,000. But both candidates are promising savings that a number of experts say they can’t deliver. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (author of “Covering the Uninsured in the U.S.”) says, “I know zero credible evidence” supporting the campaigns’ claims of big cost savings.
Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad: “Phantom Saving” Apr 21, 2008

My plan does more than anybody to reduce costs

Both Clinton and I want to set up a system in which any person is going to be able to get coverage that is as good as we have as members of Congress. We are going to subsidize those who can’t afford it, and make sure that we reduce costs by emphasizing prevention. I want to make sure that we’re applying technology to improve quality, cut bureaucracy. I want to make sure that we’re reducing costs for those who already have health insurance. So we put in place a catastrophic reinsurance plan that would reduce costs by $2,500 per family per year. So we’ve got a lot of similarities in our plan. We’ve got a philosophical difference: Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it. My belief is that people don’t have it is not because they don’t want it but because they can’t afford it. So I emphasize reducing costs. My plan does more than anybody to reduce costs, and there is nobody out there who wants health insurance who can’t have it.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

My health plan does not leave 15 million people uncovered

There are legitimate arguments for why Clinton and others have called for a mandate, and I’m happy to have that debate. But the notion that I am leaving 15 million people out somehow implies that we are different in our goals of providing coverage to all Americans, and that is simply not true. We think that there’s going to be a different way of getting there. I admire the fact that Clinton tried to bring about health care reform back in 1993. She deserves credit for that. But she did it in the wrong way because it wasn’t just the fact that the insurance companies, the drug companies were battling here, and no doubt they were. It was also that Clinton and the administration went behind closed doors, excluded the participation even of Democratic members o Congress who had slightly different ideas than the ones that Clinton had put forward. As a consequence, it was much more difficult to get Congress to cooperate. I’m going to do things differently. We have to open up the process.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

FactCheck: Hillary’s plan does mandate; but so does Obama’s

Obama said that his health care plan has “about 95%” in common with rival Hillary Clinton’s. Nevertheless, his campaign sent out a piece of direct mail that could mislead those who are not familiar with Clinton’s plan.

The mailer focuses on the primar difference between the two candidates’ proposals: whether they would require everyone to obtain coverage. Clinton’s plan would require all Americans to get insurance, though she hasn’t said what will happen if they don’t. Obama’s plan would require insurance for all children but not for adults.

The Obama campaign is trying to shift the focus to some unspecified “punishment” that Clinton’s plan would mete out for those who didn’t obtain coverage. It’s true that a “mandate” implies penalties for noncompliance, and Clinton’s campaign has yet to outline what those would be. But Obama’s plan, which would mandate coverage for children, would presumably also have some enforcement mechanism, and he doesn’t make explicit what that would be, either

Source: AdWatch of 2008 healthcare mailer Feb 4, 2008

Health plan cuts typical family’s premium by $2,500 a year

My plan will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year. It’s a plan that lets the uninsured buy insurance that’s similar to the kind members of Congress give themselves. And if you can’t afford that, you’ll get a subsidy to pay for it.

It goes further than any other proposed plan in cutting the cost of health care by investing in technology and preventive care so that children are getting regular check ups instead of having to go to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma, and by breaking the stranglehold of the drug companies and the insurance industries--we are tired of them dictating our health care markets--and helping businesses and families shoulder the cost of the most expensive conditions so that an illness doesn’t lead to bankruptcy. And I promise you this: I will sign a universal health care plan that covers every American by the end of my first term as president.

Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Ensure access to basic care

Source: 1998 IL State Legislative National Political Awareness Test Jul 2, 1998

Healthcare debate mostly televised, but could have had more

Rep. CHAFFETZ: You talked a lot [in the State of the Union speech] about this deficit of trust. I can look you in the eye and tell you we have not been obstructionists. You said you would broadcast the health care debates on C-SPAN; you didn't. And I was disappointed, and I think a lot of Americans were disappointed.

Pres. OBAMA: If you look at the health care process--overwhelmingly the majority of it actually was on C-SPAN, because it was taking place in congressional hearings in which you guys were participating. Now, I kicked it off, by the way, with a meeting with many of you, including your key leadership. I take responsibility for not having structured it in a way where it was all taking place in one place that could be filmed. How to do that logistically would not have been as easy as it sounds, because you're shuttling back and forth between the House, different offices, different legislators. But I think it's a legitimate criticism. So on that one, I take responsibility.

Source: Obama Q&A at House Republican retreat in Baltimore Jan 29, 2010

Ideas and solutions must pass some test of realism

Rep. PRICE: You have repeatedly said, most recently at the State of the Union, that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions.

Pres. OBAMA: I don't think I said that. What I said was, within the context of health care, I welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn't say that you haven't provided ideas.

Rep. PRICE: Mr. President, multiple times, from your administration, there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions. In spite of the fact that we've offered positive solutions to all of the challenges we face.

Pres. OBAMA: If you say, "We can offer coverage for all Americans, and it won't cost a penny," that's just not true. So I am absolutely committed to working with you on these issues, but it can't just be political assertions that aren't substantiated when it comes to the actual details of policy. So there's got to be some test of realism in any of these proposals, mine included.

Source: Obama Q&A at House Republican retreat in Baltimore Jan 29, 2010

End partisanship and get reform done

[Health insurance reform] is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.

Source: 2010 State of the Union Address Jan 27, 2010

Need political will to accomplish universal coverage

I will be putting out a plan over the next couple of months that details how I would approach the basic principles that by the end of my first term, that we’re going to have universal health care for every single American. Some basic principles: