Barack Obama on Health Care

Democratic President (2008); IL Senator (2004)

FactCheck: healthcare reform save $2B to $10B, not $250B

Obama has frequently promised that the health care law will lower the growth of medical costs, saying last night: "The health insurance law we passed last year will slow these rising costs."

The truth is that this largely remains to be seen. Many of th cost-saving measures the president has touted are untested, such as changes in the way care is delivered, new payment models and pilot projects that some experts applaud, and others question.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects that for most Americans, who get their insurance through work, health insurance premium costs won't change significantly from what they would have been without the law. CBO estimated that the major parts will cost $10 billion over the 2010--2019 period, while Medicare's Office of the Actuary determined savings of only $2 billion.

Overall, Medicare's chief actuary expects total spending on health care to rise over 10 years--but that's because about 34 million persons will gain health care coverage.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech Jan 26, 2011

Repealing healthcare reform would cost $250B

The bipartisan fiscal commission concluded that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it--in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. The health insurance law we passed last year will slow these rising costs, which is part of the reason that nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year--medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2011 State of the Union speech Jan 26, 2011

OpEd: cut $622B in Medicare despite claiming no cuts

President Obama has governed in a manner far different than he advertised in his campaign. He has governed from the left rather than the center, pressing for massive federal takeover of health care after running campaign ads calling "government-run health care...extreme."

Obama said ObamaCare would not add to the deficit, would bend the cost curve down, and would reduce premiums, while the evidence shows just the opposite. Obama said that under his plan people could keep the insurance they had. Independent groups have shown this claim is simply false. At one point, President Obama was even so brash as to claim his plan would not cut Medicare benefits--even though the White House's own fact sheet said at the time that two-thirds of health-care reform would be paid for by $622 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts. The deceptions have badly injured his credibility.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.513 Mar 9, 2010

Medicare is major driver of our long-term liabilities

Pres. OBAMA: The major driver of our long-term liabilities, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. That's going to be what our children have to worry about. Now, [Rep. Paul Ryan's] approach--if I understand it correctly, would say we're going to provide vouchers of some sort for current Medicare recipients at the current level.

Rep. RYAN: No.

Pres. OBAMA: No?

Rep. RYAN: People 55 and above are grandfathered in.

Pres. OBAMA: But just for future beneficiaries, the basic idea would be that at some point we hold Medicare cost per recipient constant as a way of making sure that that doesn't go way out of whack, right?

Rep. RYAN: We drew it as a blend of inflation and health inflation. Medicare is a $38 trillion unfunded liability-- it has to be reformed for younger generations because it's going bankrupt. And the premise of our idea is, why not give people the same kind of health care plan we here have in Congress?

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

Didn't tackle healthcare for political benefit, it's needed

We still need health insurance reform. I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics. I took on health care becaus of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; families--even those with insurance--who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying--Democratic administrations, Republican administrations--we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.

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

Advocated condom use to avoid AIDS at Saddleback Church

In Dec. 2006 Obama took part in an event at the Saddleback megachurch. It was World AIDS Day, and Obama appeared alongside Sen. Sam Brownback (R, KS). Brownback remarked, "Welcome to my house," prompting peals from the crowd. When Obama's turn came, he remarked, "There is one thing I've gotta say: This is my house, too. This is God's house." He quoted Corinthians and advocated the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. The huge crowd of conservative Evangelists awarded him a standing ovation.
Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 69 Jan 11, 2010

Health care is a right: something’s fundamentally wrong now

Q: Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?

McCAIN: I think it’s a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member. And with the plan that I have, that will do that. But government mandates I’m always a little nervous about. But it is certainly my responsibility. It is certainly small-business people and others, and they understand that responsibility. American citizens understand that.

OBAMA: Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills--for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against John McCain Oct 7, 2008

Health tax credit is bad idea; it will cost taxpayers more

McCAIN: I want every family to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit so they can go out and purchase their own health care. I want to double the dividend, from $3,500 to $7,000, for every dependent child in America. I know that the worst thing we could possibly do is to raise taxes on anybody.

OBAMA: I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage. McCain talked about providing a $5,000 health credit. Now, what he doesn’t tell you is that he intends to, for the first time in history, tax health benefits. So 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, and if you end up losing your health care from your employer, you’ve got to go out on the open market and try to buy it. It is not a good deal for the American people.

Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain Sep 26, 2008

$15B subsidies to private insurers was a lobbyist giveaway

We right now give $15 billion every year as subsidies to private insurers under the Medicare system. It doesn’t work any better through this private insurers; they just skim off $15 billion. That was a giveaway, and part of the reason is because lobbyists are able to shape how Medicare works. They did it on the prescription drug bill. They’ve done it with respect to Medicare.
Source: 2008 first presidential debate, Obama vs. McCain Sep 26, 2008

Give more help to those denied a life of dignity & respect

When any human being is denied a life of dignity and respect, no matter whether they live in Anacostia or Appalachia or a village in Africa; when people are trapped in extreme poverty we know how to curb or suffering from diseases we know how to prevent; when they’re going without the medicines that they so desperately need--we have more work to do.
Source: McCain-Obama speeches at 99th NAACP Convention Jul 12, 2008

End-of-life self-medication ok; euthanasia by others not ok

Q: In “The Audacity of Hope,” you write very movingly about your mother’s fight with cancer, and the pain she was in, especially at the end. In that situation, if someone wanted to take active steps to end his or her own life, do you think that would be OK morally?

A: I believe in everybody having a living will so that their views on these issues can be factored in by family members. I don’t think that it’s appropriate to empower doctors themselves to make that decision. But I think that it is important for us to be able to allow people who are terminally ill, in excruciating pain, to get the medicine they need to relieve that pain.

Q: By “relieve that pain” you mean hasten the end of life if they choose to?

A: I think that there has to be very strict guidelines to ensure that somebody who is making a decision to relieve their pain [is acting appropriately]. That is distinguished from euthanasia in which someone else is making the decision for them.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

Subsidies to people who can’t afford care--not single payer

If, in fact, we are not making healthcare affordable enough, which is what’s happening right now, and you mandate on families to buy health insurance that they can’t afford and if they don’t buy it you fine them or in some other way take money for them. What is happening in Massachusetts right now, which is that folks are having to pay fines and they don’t have health care. They’d rather go ahead and take the fine because they can’t afford the coverage. My core belief is that people desperately want coverage, and my plan provides those same subsidies. If they are provided those subsidies and they have good, quality care that’s available, then they will purchase it. That is my belief. I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn’t have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

FactCheck: Reducing obesity would save $18B, not $1T

Obama used an estimate of uncertain provenance when discussing Medicare savings, saying “If we went back to the obesity rates that existed in 1980, that would save the Medicare system a trillion dollars.”

Obama got this claim from a “candidate briefin book” put out by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank run by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. CAP cites the CDC & the Commonwealth Fund as sources for the estimate, but representatives from both organizations told us that the claim was unfamiliar to them.

We worked up our own back-of-the-envelope estimate: The CDC officially estimates that obesity cost $75 billion in 2003; & that approximately half of the cost burden for both overweight and obese people is borne by Medicaid and Medicare; & obesity rates doubled between 1980 and 2000. So if obesity rates returned to “rates that existed in 1980” they would be cut in half, and Medicare & Medicaid would save about a quarter of $75 billion, or roughly $18.75 billion per year.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Reforms in prevention and drug price negotiation save money

I emphasize how important prevention & cost savings can be in the Medicare system. Many of the reforms in my healthcare plan will reduce costs not just for the overall system, but also for Medicare. We’re not going to make some of these changes unless we change how business is done in Washington. The reason we can’t negotiate prescription drugs under the Medicare prescription drug plan is because the drug companies specifically sought and obtained a provision in the Bill that prevented us from doing it.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

FactCheck: Correct that insurance lobbying cost $1B

Obama used a figure that sounded dubious to us, but it turned out to be correct. Obama said, “We’ve also got to overcome the drug company lobbies, the insurance company lobbies, that spent $1 billion over the last 10 years to block reform.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and insurance industries spent $1.2 billion and $949 million, respectively, on all lobbying efforts since 1998. Moreover, the two industries combined shelled out about $193 million in political donations and expenditures backing Republicans, about twice as much as they spent supporting Democrats. So it is reasonable to conclude that the pharmaceutical and insurance industries have indeed spent at least $1 billion combating legislation that Obama favors.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision Sep 9, 2007

National smoking bans only after trying local bans

Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Would you be in favor of a national law to ban smoking in all public places?

A: I think that local communities are making enormous strides, and I think they’re doing the right thing on this. If it turns out that we’re not seeing enough progress at the local level, then I would favor a national law. I don’t think we’ve seen the local laws play themselves out entirely, because I think you’re seeing an enormous amount of progress in Chicago, in New York, in other major cities around the country. And because I think we have been treating this as a public health problem and educating the public on the dangers of secondhand smoke, that that pressure will continue. As I said, if we can’t provide these kinds of protections at the local level, which would be my preference, I would be supportive of a national law.

Q: Have you been successful in stopping smoking?

A: I have. You know, the best cure is my wife.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Reform failed in ‘90s because of drug company lobbying

[All of the candidates] are going to have a plan [for universal coverage]. I’ve got a plan. But we’ve had plan before, under a Democratic president in the ‘90s and a Democratic Congress. We couldn’t get it done because the drug and insurance companies are spending $1 billion over the last decade on lobbying. And that’s why we’ve got to have a president who is willing to fight to make sure that they don’t have veto power.
Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Take on insurance companies; drive down health care costs

My emphasis is on driving down the costs, taking on the insurance companies, making sure that they are limited in the ability to extract profits and deny coverage, and the drug companies have to do what’s right by their patients instead of simply hoarding their profits. We’ve got very conservative, credible estimates that say we can save families that do have health insurance about a thousand dollars a year, and we provide coverage for everybody else. We provide mandatory health care for children
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Address minority health needs by more coverage & targeting

Q: Currently there are major disparities in both access to insurance and health care for racial and minorities. How will your plan address this issue?

A: One of the biggest reasons that there are disparities is that African-Americans & Latino Americans are much more likely not to have health insurance. And so if we set up a system in which everybody’s got health insurance, some of those disparities are immediately going to be reduced. Folks who are working but don’t have health care benefits- those groups are disproportionately minority. [Covering them via their employer] would be the first step. There are some particular issues within the minority community that I think we can address in a targeted way. Lead paint may seem like an ancillary issue except for the fact that incidence of lead poisoning among African-American & Latino youths is sky high. It has huge ramifications in terms of their long-term health. Obesity and diabetes in minority communities is more severe.

Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

Allow prescription drug re-importation

Barack Obama called for a vote on a bi-partisan bill that would allow the re-importation of safe prescription drugs from industrialized countries at lower prices. “I ask for a Senate vote to allow safe imports of US-approved drugs that are manufactured in US-approved plants,” Obama said. “And, I urge Jack Ryan to stop siding with the drug manufacturers and put aside his opposition to the re-importation of lower-priced prescription drugs from Canada.”
Source: Press Release, “Prescription Drug Re-Importation” May 21, 2004

Barack Obama on AIDS

CDC estimate: a half million would follow Obama's AIDS test

In a staged public event at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kisian, Obama and his wife took an AIDS test, to demonstrate to the local people in a public forum that the test was safe. At the door of a mobile AIDS testing facility provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Obama was photographed with a microphone, speaking to the assembled crowd. The primary message of the AIDS event was a universal message, namely, that AIDS testing is safe: "One of the reasons we are here today is becaus HIV/AIDS has ravaged the community," Obama told the assembled crowd. "Too many people, too many children have gotten sick. So one of the things we're going to do here in front of this van today is that my wife and I are going to get tested for HIV/AIDS, because if you know your status, you can prevent illness." The Centers for Disease Control suggested to Obama that as many as a half-million Kenyans would take the HIV/AIDS test after they saw him and his wife safely do it themselves.
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p. 95 Aug 1, 2008

Use whatever works with AIDS, including teaching abstinence

Q: The ministry called True Love Waits, has been credited with lowering the AIDS infection rate in Uganda dramatically from 30% to 6%. It is an abstinence-based program--what is your opinion?

A: When Michelle and I were traveling in Kenya, we took an AIDS test. I compliment George Bush on the PEPFAR program [President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief]. My view is that we should use whatever the best approaches are, the scientifically sound approaches are, to reduce this devastating disease. Part of that should be a strong education component and I think abstinence education is important. I also think that contraception is important; I also think that treatment is important; I also think that we have to do more to make antiviral drugs available to people who are in extreme poverty. So I don’t want to pluck out one facet of it. Now, that doesn’t mean that non-for-profit groups can’t focus on one thing while the government focuses on other things. I think we want to have a comprehensive approach.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College Apr 13, 2008

We need condom distribution to deal with the scourge of AIDS

I’m somebody who is willing to talk about these issues, even when it’s hard, in front of black ministers. I’m willing to talk about AIDS at Saddleback Church to evangelicals and talk about why we need to have condom distribution to deal with the scourge of AIDS. So that’s the kind of political courage that I hope all of you recognize is going to be necessary in order for us to create the kind of America that we all want.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Homophobia prevents talking about HIV/AIDS

One of the things we’ve got to overcome is a stigma that still exists in our communities. We don’t talk about HIV/AIDS. We don’t talk about it in the schools. Sometimes we don’t talk about it in the churches. It has been an aspect of sometimes homophobia that we don’t address this issue as clearly as it needs to be.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Got tested for AIDS, with wife, in public, in Kenya

Q: African-Americans, though 17% of all American teenagers, are 69% of the population of teenagers diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. What is the plan to protect these young people from this scourge?

BIDEN: You’re asking, how do we prevent these 17-year-olds from getting HIV? All the things that were said here [by other candidates] are good ideas; but they don’t prevent that. I spent last summer going through the black sections of my town, trying to get black men to understand it is not unmanly to wear a condom, getting women to understand they can say no, getting people in the position where testing matters. I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There’s no shame in being tested for AIDS.

OBAMA: I just got to make clear--I got tested with Michelle, when we were in Kenya in Africa. I don’t want any confusion here about what’s going on.

BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life, because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.

OBAMA: I was tested with my wife. In public.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Curing AIDS must be all-hands-on-deck effort

We are all sick because of AIDS and we are all tested by the crisis. Neither philanthropist nor scientist; neither government nor church can solve this problem on their own. AIDS must be an all hands on deck effort. I don’t think we can deny that there is a moral and spiritual component to prevention--I heard stories of men and women contracting HIV because sex was no longer part of a sacred covenant but a mechanical physical act. Having said that, I also believe that we cannot ignore that abstinence--may not be the reality. If condoms and potentially microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, they should be made more widely available.
Source: In His Own Words, edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 10 Mar 27, 2007

Lead global fight against AIDS

[The US should] lead the global fight against the AIDS virus. The US must give its fair share to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to avoid both a humanitarian and economic crisis. President Bush’s budget this year actually cuts the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund by 65 percent. As Senator, I will hold President Bush to his word and fully fund our commitment to the war on AIDS. We must also increase the availability of generic drugs to AIDS victims around the world.
Source: Press Release, “Renewal of American Leadership ” Jul 12, 2004

Barack Obama on ObamaCare

High-risk pool for uninsured, now in plan, was GOP idea

I know how bitter and contentious the issue of health insurance reform has become. And I will eagerly look at the ideas and better solutions on the health care front. From the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn't get a lot of nibbles.

Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn't my idea, it was Senator McCain's. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition--that's a [GOP] idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have.

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

Cross-state-line insurance leads to cherry-picking

Rep. BLACKBURN: We have over 50 bills--if those good ideas aren't making it to you, maybe it's the House Democrat leadership that is an impediment.

Pres. OBAMA: Actually, I've gotten many of your ideas. Some of the ideas we have embraced in our package Some of them are embraced with caveats. So let me give you an example. One of the proposals that has been focused on by the Republicans as a way to reduce costs is allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines. We actually include that as part of our approach. But the caveat is, we've got to do so with some minimum standards, because otherwise what happens is that you could have insurance companies circumvent a whole bunch of state regulations--mammograms as part of preventive care, for example. Part of what could happen is insurance companies could go into states and cherry-pick and just get those who are healthiest and leave behind those who are least healthy, which would raise everybody's premiums who weren't healthy.

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

Tort reform only saves $5B per year; not enough to matter

Rep. PRICE: Our bill, HR3400, has more co-sponsors than any health care bill in the House--it is a bill that would provide health coverage for all Americans; would correct the significant insurance challenges of affordability and preexisting; would solve the lawsuit abuse issue, which isn't addressed significantly in the other proposals that went through the House; and does all of that without raising taxes by a penny.

Pres. OBAMA: I am willing to work with you tort reform, but the CBO says, at best, this could reduce health care costs relative to where they're growing by a couple of percent, or save $5 billion a year, and it will not bend the cost curve long term or reduce premiums significantly. If we're going to do multi-state insurance so that people can go across state lines, I've got to be able to go to an independent health care expert, who can tell me that this won't result in cherry-picking and the least healthy being worse off. I've read your legislation, and the good ideas we take.

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

FactCheck: Obama's estimate of $1T saved is closer to $132B

Obama touted an optimistic--and highly uncertain--estimate on how the Senate health care bill could affect the deficit. Obama said, "our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades."

It's true that the CBO's admittedly rough estimate said the bill could reduce the deficit below its projected level by "as much as" about $1 trillion over 20 years--but it also said the reduction could be half of that amount. And it noted the estimate is subject to a great deal of uncertainty.

CBO normally gives estimates for 10-year periods, and the nonpartisan entity doesn't like to go beyond that. It said the Senate bill could produce a net deficit reduction of $132 billion over 2010-2019. For the next decade, CBO said the reduction would be "in a broad range between 1/4% and 1/2% of GDP." Senate Democrats estimated that would mean a reduction of $650 billion to $1.3 trillion. But CBO emphasized how squishy that large range is [while Obama did not].

Source: FactCheck.org on 2010 State of the Union speech Jan 27, 2010

Zero fines & no mandate for small business

McCAIN: Sen. Obama wants, if you’ve got [a small business with] employees, if you don’t adopt the health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he’s going to fine you. Now, Sen. Obama, I’d still like to know what that fine is going to be.

OBAMA: Here’s your fine--zero.

McCAIN: Zero?

OBAMA: Zero, because as I said in our last debate and I’ll repeat, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees, but are not doing it. I exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty. But large businesses that can afford it, we’ve got a choice. Either they provide health insurance to their employees or somebody has to. Right now, what happens is those employees get dumped into either the Medicaid system, which taxpayers pick up, or they’re going to the emergency room for uncompensated care, which everybody picks up in their premiums.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

No exclusions for pre-existing conditions

Q: Do you believe health care should be treated as a commodity?

A: Here’s what I would do. If you’ve got health care already, and probably the majority of you do, then you can keep your plan if you are satisfied with it. You can keep your choice of doctor. We’re going to work with your employer to lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year. And we’re going to do it by investing in prevention. We’re going to do it by making sure that we use information technology so that medical records are actually on computers instead of you filling forms out in triplicate when you go to the hospital. That will reduce medical errors and reduce costs. If you don’t have health insurance, you’re going to be able to buy the same kind of insurance that Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. Because there’s a huge pool, we can drop the costs. And nobody will be excluded for pre-existing conditions, which is a huge problem.

Source: 2008 second presidential debate against John McCain Oct 7, 2008

FactCheck: Exempts small business, but no $2,500/yr savings

Obama said his health care plan would lower insurance premiums by up to $2,500 a year. Experts we’ve consulted see little evidence such savings would materialize.

McCain misstated Obama’s health care plan, claiming it would levy fines on “small businesses” that fail to provide health insurance. Actually, Obama’s plan exempts “small businesses.”

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 second presidential debate Oct 7, 2008

Ban insurance companies from discriminating against the sick

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Include everyone who wants insurance in national pool

During the South Carolina debate, Obama described what has become the trademark of his proposal: an extension of the private health insurance system that would include everyone who wanted to purchase health insurance. "Number one, I think we should have a national pool that people can buy into if they don't have health insurance," he said, "similar to the ones that most of us who are in Congress enjoy right now." Obama made clear that his objections to lack of universal health care were based primarily on "fairness," just as were his objections to a low capital gains tax rate. "It doesn't matter to me that my bosses, the taxpayers, may not have health insurance that I enjoy," he continued. "And we can provide subsidies for those who can't afford the group rates that are available."
Source: Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi, p.247 Aug 1, 2008

I’ve got a health plan and a plan to get it implemented

I’ve got a plan for creating universal health care, shepherding that through Congress so that I can actually sign a bill, then executing and implementing that. You know, those are things that I worry about.
Source: ABC News: 2008 election interview with Charlie Gibson Jun 4, 2008

Voluntary universal participation, like in Medicare Part B

OBAMA: Her mandate is not a mandate for the government to provide coverage to everybody; it is a mandate that every individual purchase health care.

CLINTON: [Obama’s plan] would be as though Franklin Roosevelt said let’s make Social Security voluntary --let’s let everybody get in it if they can afford it--or if Pres. Johnson said let’s make Medicare voluntary. Now, if you want to say that we shouldn’t try to get everyone into health insurance, that’s a big difference.

OBAMA: I believe that if we make it affordable, people will purchase it. In fact, Medicare Part B is not mandated, it is voluntary. And yet people over 65 choose to purchase it, Hillary, and the reason they choose to purchase it is because it’s a good deal. And if people end up seeing a plan that is affordable for them, I promise you they are snatching it up because they are desperate to get health care. And that’s what I intend to provide as president of the United States.

Source: 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

Buy private insurance via National Health Insurance Exchange

National Health Insurance Exchange:
The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participat-ing insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible. Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend on how healthy you are. The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency. The Exchange would evaluate plans and make the differences among the plans, including cost of services, public.
Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 6-9 Feb 2, 2008

Against enforcement mechanism for mandating insurance

CLINTON: [Obama & I] do have differences on health care. I believe absolutely passionately that we must have universal health care. It is a moral responsibility [to] move us to universal health care.

OBAMA: About 95% of our plans are similar. We both set up a government plan that would [cover] pre-existing conditions. We both want to emphasize prevention. But I emphasize reducing costs. If we provide subsidies to those who can’t afford it, they will buy it. Sen. Clinton has a different approach. She believes that we have to force people who don’t have health insurance to buy it, or there will be a lot of people who don’t get it. But if you are going to mandate the purchase of insurance & it’s not affordable, then there’s going to have to be some enforcement mechanism that the government uses. And they may charge fines to people who already don’t have health care, or take it out of their paychecks. And that, I don’t think, is helping those without health insurance. That is a genuine difference.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday Jan 30, 2008

FactCheck: OPPORTUNITY to insure all, but no GUARANTEE

Obama’s ad touting his health care plan quotes phrases from newspaper articles and an editorial, but makes them sound more laudatory and authoritative than they actually are.
Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad, “Interest” Jan 3, 2008

AdWatch: Don’t make it illegal not to have health care

Radio ad running in Iowa:

[Female announcer]: Here’s what the experts say. President Clinton’s own Labor Secretary Robert Reich says, quote, “I’ve compared the plans in detail. Obama’s plan would insure more people than the others.” The Pioneer Press confirms Obama guarantees coverage for all Americans.

[Male announcer]: But here’s the real difference on health care. Senators Edwards and Clinton favor mandates which the Daily Iowan says would, quote, “force those who cannot afford health insurance to buy it, punishing those who don’t fall in line.”

[Female announcer]: Barack Obama believes the solution isn’t making it illegal not to have health care. It’s making it affordable.

[Male announcer]: And that’s why his plan cuts costs for a typical family by twenty-five hundred dollars.

[Female Announcer]: As the Concord Monitor says, when it comes to honesty about health care, Obama has the edge.

Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad, “Health care” Jan 1, 2008

Problem isn’t mandating coverage, but affording it

I do provide universal health care. The only difference between Clinton’s plan and mine is that she thinks the problem for people without health care is that nobody has mandated, forced them to get health care. What I see are people who would love to have health care & can’t afford it. My plan that makes sure that it is affordable to get health care as good as the health care that I have as a member of Congress. That’s what the American people are looking for & what I intend to provide as president.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov 15, 2007

FactCheck: Coverage plan might leave 8.5 million uninsured

Both Clinton & Obama dabbled in exaggerations on their opponents’ health care plan. Clinton said, “His plan would leave 15 million Americans out. I have a universal health care plan that covers everyone.” Obama responded, “I do provide universal health care.”

Clinton uses a dubious statistic when she claims Obama’s plan would leave out 15 million of the uninsured. But Obama’s statement that his proposal provides “universal” health care is also suspect. Clinton based her claim on a column by The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, who loosely estimated Obama’s plan would leave 15 million uninsured. Cohn offered an estimate based on the best information available, not a hard and fast calculation. The best available information says that Obama’s plan would leave between 8.5 million uninsured, up to 18 million people uninsured if Obama has no individual mandates. The Obama plan does include limited mandates, including a requirement for employers to either provide health insurance or pay into a public fund.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Nov 15, 2007

Cautious incremental plan offers choice & subsidy

[Obama’s record] leads to the conclusion that caution and synthesis would be his standard operating procedure.

You can see these tendencies in Obama’s healthcare plan, which bars insurers from refusing coverage to anyone, lets people choose between private plans and a public one, and offers subsidies to those who cannot afford the rates. This approach borrows heavily from John Edward’s much-praised scheme, but it falls short of his call for universal coverage. At any rate, The New Republic estimates that Obama’s plan would leave about fifteen million American uninsured.

It can be argued that an incremental attitude is the best way to pass liberal legislation these days. Obama has said as much. “For a political leader to get things done, he or she ideally should be ahead of the curve, but not too far ahead.”

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 72 Nov 11, 2007

Tackle insurance companies on reimbursement system

We need to deal with the insurance companies. On Medicare and Medicaid, the reimbursement system is not working the way it should. Instituting a universal health-care system that emphasizes prevention will free up dollars that potentially then can go to reimbursing doctors a little bit more.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

Government healthcare like members of Congress have

Q: You favor universal coverage for everyone without exception?

A: That’s correct. Part of the reason that you’re confused about the candidates’ differences is because the differences probably matter less than the commonalties. All of the major Democratic candidates are advocating some form of universal health care. The question is, how do we get there? My proposal says:

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Morally wrong that terminally ill must consider money

Q: Why is it so difficult to make health care accessible to everyone in the world’s richest country?

A: It shouldn’t be. And it’s wrong. You know, my mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 53 years old. And I remember in the last month of her life, she wasn’t thinking about how to get well, she wasn’t thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality, she was thinking about whether or not insurance was going to cover the medical bills and whether our family would be bankrupt as a consequence. That is morally wrong. It’s objectionable. That’s why I put forward a comprehensive legislation for universal health care so that all people could get coverage. My attitude is, that since you are paying my salary as taxpayers, you should have health care that is at least as good as mine. And the key to that is not only a good plan, but we’ve also got to overcome the drug & insurance company lobbies, that spent $1 billion over the last 10 years to block reform. As president, I am going to take them on.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish Sep 9, 2007

Increase competition in the insurance and drug markets

Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

National Health Insurance Exchange for private coverage

Source: Campaign website, BarackObama.com, “Resource Flyers” Aug 26, 2007

Give people the choice to buy affordable health care

We’ve got these savings and we’re still going to have to do a little bit more, partly because you’ve got to invest up front in, for example, information technology so that rural hospitals that don’t have computers are able to buy them. And they’re going to need some help. But on this issue of mandatory versus non-mandatory, people are not going around trying to avoid buying health care coverage. If you look at auto insurance, in California there’s mandatory auto insurance. Twenty-five percent of the folks don’t have it. The reason is because they can’t afford it. I’m committed to starting the process. Everybody who wants it can buy it and it’s affordable. If we have some gaps remaining, we will work on that. You take it from the opposite direction, but you’re still going to have some folks who aren’t insured under your plan, John, because some of them will simply not be able to afford to buy the coverage they’re offered.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Employers are going to have to pay or play

Employers are going to have to pay or play. I think that employers either have to provide health care coverage for their employees or they’ve got to make a decision that they’re going to help pay for those who don’t have coverage outside the employer system. So I think that’s one important principle, & the second important principle is that we’re going to have to put more money into prevention, chronic care management, & medical technology, because that is how we’re going to accrue the needed savings
Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas Mar 24, 2007

The market alone can’t solve our health-care woes

President Clinton took a stab at creating a system of universal coverage, but was stymied. Since then, public debate has been deadlocked.

Given the money we spend on health care, we should be able to provide basic coverage to everyone. But we have to contain costs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

The market alone cannot solve the problem--in part because the market has proven incapable of creating large enough insurance pools to keep costs to individuals affordable. Overall, 20% of all patients account for 80% of the care, and if we can prevent disease or manage their effects, we can dramatically improve outcomes and save money.

With the money saved through increased preventive care and lower administrative and malpractice costs, we would provide a subsidy to low-income families and immediately mandate coverage for all uninsured children.

There is no easy fix, but the point is that if we commit to making sure everyone has decent care, there are ways to do it.

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.183-185 Oct 1, 2006

Health care tied to balancing costs and taxes nation wide

We know that as progressives we believe in affordable health care for all Americans, and that we’re going to make sure that Americans don’t have to choose between a health care plan that bankrupts the government and one that bankrupts families, the party that won’t just throw a few tax breaks at families who can’t afford their insurance, but will modernize our health care system and give every family a chance to buy insurance at a price they can afford.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference Jun 14, 2006

Will expand health coverage & allow meds to be re-imported

Obama has proposed a detailed health plan that covers every child in America, allows those near retirement to buy into Medicare, and ensures coverage for those losing jobs through no fault of their own. He will allow re-importation of drugs from other industrialized nations and fight for a Medicare prescription drug law that allows the federal government to negotiate drug prices.
Source: Campaign website, ObamaForIllinois.com, ?On The Issues? May 2, 2004

Barack Obama on Obamacare Criticism

OpEd: Slices $500B from Medicare; repeals Medicare Advantage

Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p.277-278 Apr 13, 2010

Barack Obama on Universal Coverage

Reduce premiums and uninsured get same coverage as Congress

OBAMA: If you’ve got insurance through your employer, you can keep your insurance. We estimate we can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, then we’re going to provide you the option of buying into the same kind of federal pool that both Sen. McCain and I enjoy as federal employees. We’re going to make sure insurance companies can’t discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions. We’ll negotiate with the drug companies for the cheapest available prices. We are going to invest in information technology to eliminate bureaucracy and make the system more efficient. We’ve got to put more money into preventive care.

McCAIN: I want to give every family a $5,000 refundable tax credit. Take it and get anywhere in America the health care that you wish. [For employers], if you want to do the right thing with your employees and provide them health insurance, we’ll give you a 50% credit so that you will actually be able to afford it.

Source: 2008 third presidential debate against John McCain Oct 15, 2008

When your child gets sick, you don't shop for best bargain

Obama had identified an area of injustice in our economic system: the unjust power of monopolies, collusion among supposed competitors, and the ensuing damage both to consumers and entrepreneurs. Obama has spoken directly about his concerns that the healthcare insurance industry may be too concentrated, with the top two competitors controlling one-third of the entire market nationally. Obama adds, "The market alone can't solve our healthcare woes--in part because the market has proven incapable of creating large enough insurance pools to keep costs to individuals affordable, in part because healthcare is not like other products or services (when your child gets sick, you don't go shopping for the best bargain)."
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p. 44-45 Jul 1, 2008

If we started from scratch, one-payer system would be best

Obama has said that if we were starting over with a completely blank slate he would favor the one-payer system that is used in almost every developed country in the world. But we aren't starting from scratch. Obama's plan is to create a health insurance system that will cover all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses. From his healthcare position paper entitled, "Plan for a Healthy America":Obama, a realist, believes that you must start with the system's current situation and try to make incremental progress.
Source: Obamanomics, by John R. Talbott, p.147-148&154 Jul 1, 2008

AdWatch: My plan costs $2,500 less per family than Clinton’s

Obama TV ad, “Phantom Savings”

Announcer: Hillary Clinton is attacking. But what’s she not telling you about her health care plan? It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it. And you pay a penalty if you don’t. Barack Obama believes it’s not that people don’t want health care. It’s that they can’t afford it. That’s why the Obama plan reduces costs more than Hillary’s, saving $2,500 for the typical family. For health care we can afford, vote for change we can believe in.

Source: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad: “Phantom Saving” Apr 21, 2008

Universal health care means anyone who wants it can get it

CLINTON: I think it’s imperative that we stand as Democrats for universal health care. I’ve staked out a claim for that. Sen. Edwards did. Others have. But Sen. Obama has not.

OBAMA: Well, look, I believe in universal health care, as does Sen. Clinton. And the point of the debate, is that Sen. Clinton repeatedly claims that I don’t stand for universal health care. And, you know, for Sen. Clinton to say that, I think, is simply not accurate. Every expert has said that anybody who wants health care under my plan will be able to obtain it. President Clinton’s own secretary of Labor has said that my plan does more to reduce costs and as a consequence makes sure that the people who need health care right now, all across America, will be able to obtain it. And we do more to reduce costs than any other plan that’s been out there.

CLINTON: [Leaving out a mandate is the same as saying] that we shouldn’t try to get everyone into health insurance.

Source: 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

Mandating kids’ insurance ok; mandating adults has problems

CLINTON: Sen. Obama has a mandate in his plan. It’s a mandate on parents to provide health insurance for their children. That’s about 150 million people.

OBAMA: I have no objection to Sen. Clinton thinking that her approach is superior. But we still don’t know how Sen. Clinton intends to enforce a mandate.

CLINTON: Sen. Obama would enforce the mandate by requiring parents to buy insurance for their children.

OBAMA: This is true.

CLINTON: If you have a mandate, it has to be enforceable. So there’s no difference here.

OBAMA: No, there is a difference. I do provide a mandate for children, because we have created programs in which we can have greater assurance that those children will be covered at an affordable price. But we don’t want to put adults in a situation in which, on the front end, we are mandating them, we are forcing them to purchase insurance, and if the subsidies are inadequate, the burden is on them, and they will be penalized. And that is what Sen. Clinton’s plan does.

Source: 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

Young adults up to age 25 can be covered under parents’ plan

CLINTON: About 20% of the people who are uninsured have the means to buy insurance. They’re often young people who think they’re immortal.

OBAMA: Which is why I cover them.

CLINTON: Except when the illness or the accident strikes. And what Sen. Obama has said, that then, once you get to the hospital, you’ll be forced to buy insurance, I don’t think that’s a good idea. We ought to plan for it, and we ought to make sure we cover everyone. That is the only way to get to universal health care coverage. But if we don’t even have a plan to get there, and we start out by leaving people, you’ll never ever control costs, improve quality, and cover everyone.

OBAMA: With respect to the young people, my plan specifically says that up until the age of 25 you will be able to be covered under your parents’ insurance plan, so that cohort that Sen. Clinton is talking about will, in fact, have coverage.

Source: [X-ref Clinton] 2008 Democratic Debate in Cleveland Feb 26, 2008

Adults will get health care as they can afford it

When Clinton says a mandate, it’s not a mandate on government to provide health insurance, it’s a mandate on individuals to purchase it. Massachusetts has a mandate right now. They have exempted 20% of the uninsured because they have concluded that that 20% can’t afford it. There are people who are paying fines and still can’t afford it, so now they’re worse off than they were. They don’t have health insurance and they’re paying a fine. To force people to get health insurance, you’ve got to have a very harsh penalty, and Clinton has said that we won’t go after their wages. The reason a mandate for children can be effective is we’ve got an ability to make affordable health care available to that child, right now. There are no excuses. If a parent is not providing health care for that child, it’s because the parent’s not being responsible, under my plan. Those children don’t have a choice. But adults are going to be able to see that they can afford it and will get it under my plan.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin Feb 21, 2008

AdWatch: punishing uninsured families doesn’t make sense

Hillary’s health care plan forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it. Is that the best we can do for families struggling with high health care costs?

Hillary’s health care plan forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it... and you pay a penalty if you don’t.

Punishing families who can’t afford health care to begin with just doesn’t make sense. Bill Clinton’s own Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, wrote, “I’ve compared the two plans in detail... But in my view Obama’s would insure more people, not fewer, than HRC’s.“

Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2008 healthcare mailer Feb 4, 2008

No one turned away due to illness or pre-existing condition

Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 6-9 Feb 2, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, Obama favored single-payer, despite denial

Clinton charged that Obama’s position has shifted on health care, from favoring a single-payer, universal system when he was a Senate candidate to the plan he favors now, which has no requirement. Obama denied that he had ever said he would work to get a single-payer plan, saying, “I never said that we should try to get single-payer. I said that if I were starting from scratch, I would probably go with a single-payer system.”

But Obama’s denial doesn’t hold up. In a speech in June 2003, Obama said: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program. I see no reason why the US cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. A single-payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see.“

After his election, Obama tempered his position, saying in May 2007, ”If you’re starting from scratch, then a single-payer system would probably make sense. But managing the transition would be difficult. So we may need a system that’s not so disruptive.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Dem. Debate Jan 21, 2008

AdWatch: Pressure insurance & drug companies to change

Obama TV ad in Iowa:
Announcer: While Iowans struggle with health costs, outside groups are spending millions to stop change, including false attacks on Barack Obama’s health plan. But experts say Obama’s plan is “the best.” It “guarantees coverage for all Americans.” Putting “pressure on insurance and drug companies,” his plan cuts costs more than any other--saving $2,500 for the typical family. The same old Washington politics won’t fix health care. But we can.
Source: FactCheck.org: AdWatch of 2008 campaign ad, “Interest” Jan 3, 2008

Being poor in this country is hazardous to your health

Q: Both Latinos and Blacks receive significantly worse medical care than whites in the US, when they get care. What can the president do to address this, and can we afford it?

A: The president can do everything to address this and can afford it if we are able to bring people together to get it done. And this is something that I am committed to doing as president. But it is indisputable that if you are poor in this country that is hazardous to your health, if you are black or brown, too, and poor, it can be downright deadly. Right now, even when blacks or Latinos have the same health insurance as whites, they are not receiving the same quality of care. And that means that we’ve got to have more black and brown doctors and nurses; we’ve got to have studies in terms of making sure that we are eliminating these disparities; we’ve got to make sure that we are doing outreach in these communities ahead of time to prevent disease.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Added 20,000 children to Illinois healthcare

Obama also has a record of success on health care in Illinois. He sponsored the legislation expanding Kid Care and Family Care that added 20,000 children to the state health insurance program. Obama was a cosponsor of the Senior Citizen Prescription Drug Discount Program Act, which enabled senior citizens and the disabled to obtain prescription drugs at discount rates. Obama also cosponsored smaller reforms such as SB989, which allowed Medicaid money to care for mentally or emotionally disturbed children as outpatients rather than the far more expensive option of institutionalizing them, and SB1417, which required all insurance companies operating in Illinois to pay for screenings of colorectal cancer.
Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.148 Oct 30, 2007

National insurance pool & catastrophic insurance

Let me tell you what [my health care plan] would do. Number one, we should have a national pool that people can buy into if they don’t have health insurance, similar to the ones that most of us who are in Congress enjoy right now. It doesn’t make sense to me that my bosses, the taxpayers, may not have health insurance that I enjoy. And we can provide subsidies for those who can’t afford the group rates that are available. The second thing is to make sure that we control costs. We spend $2 trillion on health care in this country every year, 50% more than other industrialized nations. And yet, we don’t have, necessarily, better outcomes. If we make sure that we provide preventive care and medical technology that can eliminate bureaucracy and paperwork, that makes a big difference. The third thing is catastrophic insurance to help businesses and families avoid the bankruptcies that we’re experiencing all across the country and reduced premiums for families.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Healthcare system is broken without lifetime employment

Our health-care system is broken: expensive, inefficient, and poorly adapted to an economy no longer built on lifetime employment, a system that exposes Americans to insecurity and possible destitution. But year after year, ideology and political gamesmanship result in inaction, except for 2003, when we got a prescription drug bill that managed to combine the worst aspects of the public and private sectors--price gouging and confusion, gaps in coverage and an eye-popping bill for taxpayers.
Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p. 22-23 Oct 1, 2006

Focus on the affordability of a broad healthcare plan

Our medical care costs twice as much per capita as any other advanced nation. Given that half of the people are getting, already, employer-based health care, that it would be impractical for us to do so, which is why my plan says anybody can get health care that is the same as the health care that I have as a member of Congress. The problem is, they can’t afford it. As a consequence, we focus on reducing costs. This is a legitimate argument for us to have, but it’s not true that I leave them out
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Crises happen in our lives and healthcare is necessary

The use of generics is important, as the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee I’ve continually encouraged the use of generic drugs at the state level. Part of the problem and the reason we’re not using generic drugs as much as we should is because we have a convoluted set of patent laws that allow drug companies to change the shape or color of the tablet, and as a consequence, renew their patents and block generic drugs from coming onto the market. It does make sense for us to encourage preventative care and improve our health and lifestyles. A father in Galesburg that I met who had just lost his job, just got his pink slip, and whose son had just had a liver transplant, and he’s trying to figure out how does he pay $4,200 a month in immunosuppressant drugs in order to keep his son alive. A liver transplant is not solvable by better health. Crises happen in our lives. To the extent possible, we should control costs when we can and expand affordability and accessibility of healthcare.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama on Voting Record

No need to mandate coverage; just let people afford it

Q: [to Obama]: Sen. Edwards says your plan doesn’t really provide universal coverage. Does it?

OBAMA: Absolutely it does. John and I have a disagreement. John thinks that the only way we get universal coverage is to mandate coverage. I think that the problem is not that people are trying to avoid getting health care coverage. It is folks like that who are desperately in desire of it, but they can can’t afford it.

Q: [to Edwards]: Does Sen. Obama provide universal coverage

EDWARDS: No, because the only way to provide universal coverage is to mandate that everyone be covered. Sen. Obama’s made a very serious proposal, and I’m not casting aspersions on his plan. It just doesn’t cover everybody. The only way to cover everybody is to mandate it. We have talked about it too long. We have got to stand up to the insurance companies and the drug companies. It is the only way we’re ever going to bring about real change. We should be outraged by these stories.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Voted NO on means-testing to determine Medicare Part D premium.

CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To require wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to pay a greater share of their Medicare Part D premiums.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.

Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.

Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56

Reference: Bill S.Amdt.4240 to S.Con.Res.70 ; vote number 08-S063 on Mar 13, 2008

Voted YES on requiring negotiated Rx prices for Medicare part D.

Would require negotiating with pharmaceutical manufacturers the prices that may be charged to prescription drug plan sponsors for covered Medicare part D drugs.

Proponents support voting YES because:

This legislation is an overdue step to improve part D drug benefits. The bipartisan bill is simple and straightforward. It removes the prohibition from negotiating discounts with pharmaceutical manufacturers, and requires the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate. This legislation will deliver lower premiums to the seniors, lower prices at the pharmacy and savings for all taxpayers.

It is equally important to understand that this legislation does not do certain things. HR4 does not preclude private plans from getting additional discounts on medicines they offer seniors and people with disabilities. HR4 does not establish a national formulary. HR4 does not require price controls. HR4 does not hamstring research and development by pharmaceutical houses. HR4 does not require using the Department of Veterans Affairs' price schedule.

Opponents support voting NO because:

Does ideological purity trump sound public policy? It shouldn't, but, unfortunately, it appears that ideology would profoundly change the Medicare part D prescription drug program, a program that is working well, a program that has arrived on time and under budget. The changes are not being proposed because of any weakness or defect in the program, but because of ideological opposition to market-based prices. Since the inception of the part D program, America's seniors have had access to greater coverage at a lower cost than at any time under Medicare.

Under the guise of negotiation, this bill proposes to enact draconian price controls on pharmaceutical products. Competition has brought significant cost savings to the program. The current system trusts the marketplace, with some guidance, to be the most efficient arbiter of distribution.
Status: Cloture rejected Cloture vote rejected, 55-42 (3/5ths required)

Reference: Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act; Bill S.3 & H.R.4 ; vote number 2007-132 on Apr 18, 2007

Voted YES on expanding enrollment period for Medicare Part D.

To provide for necessary beneficiary protections in order to ensure access to coverage under the Medicare part D prescription drug program. Voting YES would extend the 6-month enrollment period for the Prescription Drug Benefit Program to the entire year of 2006 and allows beneficiaries to change plans once in that year, without penalty, after enrollment. Also would fully reimburse pharmacies, states and individuals for cost in 2006 for covered Medicare Part D drugs.
Reference: Medicare Part D Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2730 to HR 4297 ; vote number 2006-005 on Feb 2, 2006

Voted YES on increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generics.

Vote on an amendment that removes an increase in the Medicaid deduction rebate for generic drugs from 11% to 17%. The effect of the amendment, according to its sponsor, is as follows: "This bill eliminates the ability of generic drugs to be sold using Medicaid. Over half the prescription drugs used in Medicaid are generic. Because we have raised the fees so dramatically on what a generic drug company must pay a pharmacy to handle the drug, pharmacies are not going to use the generic. In the long run, that will cost the Medicaid Program billions of dollars. My amendment corrects that situation." A Senator opposing the amendment said: "This bill has in it already very significant incentives for generic utilization through the way we reimburse generics. Brand drugs account for 67% of Medicaid prescriptions, but they also account for 81% of the Medicaid rebates. This is reasonable policy for us, then, to create parity between brand and generic rebates. This amendment would upset that parity."
Reference: Amendment for Medicaid rebates for generic drugs; Bill S Amdt 2348 to S 1932 ; vote number 2005-299 on Nov 3, 2005

Voted YES on negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drug.

Vote to adopt an amendment that would allow federal government negotiations with prescription drug manufactures for the best possible prescription drug prices. Amendment details: To ensure that any savings associated with legislation that provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the authority to participate in the negotiation of contracts with manufacturers of covered part D drugs to achieve the best possible prices for such drugs under Medicare Part D of the Social Security Act, that requires the Secretary to negotiate contracts with manufacturers of such drugs for each fallback prescription drug plan, and that requires the Secretary to participate in the negotiation for a contract for any such drug upon the request of a prescription drug plan or an MA-PD plan, is reserved for reducing expenditures under such part.
Reference: Prescription Drug Amendment; Bill S.Amdt. 214 to S.Con.Res. 18 ; vote number 2005-60 on Mar 17, 2005

Increase funding for AIDS treatment & prevention.

Obama adopted the CBC principles:

HIV/AIDS Initiatives
The CBC’s Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative will focus on those areas hardest hit by the epidemic, many of which are in districts that we represent. The initiative will focus on prevention and treatment and we will also seek to re-direct and/or increase funding levels based on a detailed review of the implementation of the initiative. In addition, the CBC recognizes the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the global workforce, specifically in Africa, and on the allocation of resources of developing countries. Therefore, the CBC will continue its efforts to support a comprehensive global policy aimed at ending the scourge of HIV/AIDS around the globe.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC5 on Jan 6, 2001

More funding for Rx benefits, community health, CHIPs.

Obama adopted the CBC principles:

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC6 on Jan 6, 2001

Improve services for people with autism & their families.

Obama co-sponsored improving services for people with autism & their families

Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:

  1. convene, on behalf of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Treatments, Interventions, and Services Evaluation Task Force to evaluate evidence-based biomedical and behavioral treatments and services for individuals with autism;
  2. establish a multi-year demonstration grant program for states to provide evidence-based autism treatments, interventions, and services.
  3. establish planning and demonstration grant programs for adults with autism;
  4. award grants to states for access to autism services following diagnosis;
  5. award grants to University Centers of Excellence for Developmental Disabilities to provide services and address the unmet needs of individuals with autism and their families;
  6. make grants to protection and advocacy systems to address the needs of individuals with autism and other emerging populations of individuals with disabilities; and
  7. award a grant to a national nonprofit organization for the establishment and maintenance of a national technical assistance center for autism services and information dissemination.
  8. Directs the Comptroller General to issue a report on the financing of autism services and treatments.
Source: Promise for Individuals With Autism Act (S.937 & HR.1881) 07-HR1881 on Apr 17, 2007

Establish a national childhood cancer database.

Obama co-sponsored establishing a national childhood cancer database

Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007 - A bill to advance medical research and treatments into pediatric cancers, ensure patients and families have access to the current treatments and information regarding pediatric cancers, establish a population-based national childhood cancer database, and promote public awareness of pediatric cancers.

    Authorizes the Secretary to award grants to childhood cancer professional and direct service organizations for the expansion and widespread implementation of:
  1. activities that provide information on treatment protocols to ensure early access to the best available therapies and clinical trials for pediatric cancers;
  2. activities that provide available information on the late effects of pediatric cancer treatment to ensure access to necessary long-term medical and psychological care; and
  3. direct resource services such as educational outreach for parents, information on school reentry and postsecondary education, and resource directories or referral services for financial assistance, psychological counseling, and other support services.
Legislative Outcome: House version H.R.1553; became Public Law 110-285 on 7/29/2008.
Source: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (S911/HR1553) 07-S911 on Mar 19, 2007

Preserve access to Medicaid & SCHIP during economic downturn.

Obama co-sponsored preserving access to Medicaid & SCHIP in economic downturn

A bill to preserve access to Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program during an economic downturn.

Source: Economic Recovery in Health Care Act (S.2819) 2008-S2819 on Apr 7, 2008

Other candidates on Health Care: Barack Obama on other issues:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:Hillary Clinton
HHS:Tom Daschle
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOC:Judd Gregg
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DOC:Bill Richardson
DoD:Robert Gates
A.G.:Eric Holder
Treas.:Tim Geithner

Former Bush Administration:
Pres.George W. Bush
V.P.Dick Cheney
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
Pres.Bill Clinton
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
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Page last updated: Jul 23, 2011