Video, Transcript - President Obama: We're Better Off Because We Had the Courage to Pass This Law
President Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House following the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold the health care law. The president said, “Earlier today the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to a family’s financial ruin.”
President Obama addressed the politics to come in the aftermath of the decision, saying, “Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”
The president took the opportunity to talk about how the law will affect all Americans. He acknowledged that the law hasn't been politically popular, but said ultimately, the decision was made to include a provision that “people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.”
In reference to Mitt Romney, the president stated, “In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for president.” He continued, “It should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country.”
President Obama said, “The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law and we will work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won't do, what the country can't afford to do, is refight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were.”
He closed out his remarks, saying, “Today I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.”
Read the full transcript below:
Good afternoon, earlier today the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare Act. The name of the healthcare reform we passed two years ago. In doing so they've reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no accident or illness should lead to any families' financial ruin. I know there will be a lot of discussion about the politics of all this. About who won and who lost, that's these things tend viewed here in Washington.
But that discussion completely misses the point, whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over the country. Who's lives will be more secure because of this law, and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it. And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take time and talk about exactly what it means for you. First if you are one of the 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance, this law only makes it more secure and more affordable, insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. You can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you’re sick, they can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.
They are required to provide free preventive care like checkup and mammograms, a provision that's already helped 55 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a refund from their insurance companies, because it spent too much money on expenses and too CEO bonuses and not enough on your health care, there's more. Because of the Affordable Healthcare act, young adults under 26 can stay under their parent's healthcare plan. A provision that has already helped 6 million Americans. And because of the Affordable Healthcare act seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs, a discount that saved millions of seniors on Medicare about 600 dollars each.
All of this is happening because of the affordable healthcare act. These provisions provide common sense protection for middle class families and they enjoy broad popular support and thanks to today's decision all of these benefits and protections will continue for those Americans with health insurance. Now if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don't have health insurance, starting in 2014 this plan will provide for an array of quality affordable private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options. And if states can come up with even better ways of taking care of people with more quality and cost, this law allows to do that too, and I've asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year 1.
Once states set up these health insurance market places, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer discriminate against someone with a preexisting health condition. They won't charge you more because you are a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you will finally have the same chance to get quality affordable healthcare as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums you will receive that helps pay for it. Today the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that if you can afford health insurance you can take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.
First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage gets sick and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.
And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions but don't require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some people will wait until they're sick to buy the care they need. Which would also drive up everybody else's premiums.
That's why even though I knew it wouldn't be politically popular and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who could afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea's enjoyed support from members of both parties. Including the current Republican nominee for President.
Still I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared. And I know a lot of coverage through this healthcare debate has focused on what it means politically. Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.
You know, there's a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she'd been cancer free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage, despite her fears that she would get sick again, she had to surrender her health insurance. And was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.
I carried Natoma's story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans all across the country who have had to worry about not only getting sick but about the cost of getting well.
Natoma is well today. And because of this law there are other Americans, other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, who would not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the American for whom we pass this law.
The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we'll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won't do, what the country can't afford to do, is refight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were.
With today's announcement, it's time for us to move forward. To implement and where necessary improve on this law. And now's the time for us to keep focus on the most urgent challenge of our time; putting people back to work, paying down our debt and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.
But today, I'm as confident as ever that if we look back five years from now, or ten years from now or twenty years from now, we'll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.