In his speech to the Nation, following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”) on Thursday, President Obama took the occasion to lay out in simple terms for the American people what is in the Health Care Law (which some call “Obamacare”), and what it will mean for you.
The President began his statement by saying that in upholding the Health Care Law, the U.S. Supreme Court has “reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.”
After acknowledging “I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington,” the President went on to say “that discussion completely misses the point.”
“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 said.
He then went on to explain again, in simple terms, to the American people what is in the Affordable Care Act and how it will help you. “[B]ecause this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you,” the President said.
From the transcript of the President’s remarks provided by the White House, here is the President’s list of some of the provisions contained in the Health Care Law and what they will mean for you:
First he outlined what the Health Care Law will mean for the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance.
“First,” he said, “if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.”
The President pointed out that if you already have health insurance, you are already benefiting from the Law because, now, under the Affordable Care Act:
- “Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.
- They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.
- They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.
- They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.
- They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.
- And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.
- There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.
- And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.”
“All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections 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 Americans who already have health insurance,” the President said.
The President went on to outline additional benefits that the Law will provide for the more than 30 million Americans who do not yet have health insurance, as well as for those with health insurance, starting in 2014:
“Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from,” the President said. Starting in 2014,
- “Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options,
- And if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.
- Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.
- They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.
- They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy.
- If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.
- And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.”
The President did not mention many other benefits provided to Americans and American businesses by the Health Care Law, which are outlined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in its Overview of the Key Features of the Affordable Care Act and the timeline for their implementation.
The President also explained why the individual insurance mandate in the law (which was upheld by the Supreme Court) is required and beneficial to all Americans.
As explained by HHS, what the individual insurance mandate means is that starting in 2014, “Under the new law, most individuals who can afford it [and who do not already have health insurance] will be required to obtain basic health insurance coverage or pay a fee to help offset the costs of caring for uninsured Americans. If affordable coverage is not available to an individual, he or she will be eligible for an exemption.”
The President explained why this is important and necessary:
First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get 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 folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.”
The President reminded the American people that “In fact, this idea [of the individual insurance mandate] has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.”
The President acknowledged “I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.”
“Well,” he said, “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.”
The President closed with a true story of a woman named Natoma Canfield whose story provided an example of why the President fought for Health Care Reform. “For years and years, Natoma did everything right,” the President said. “She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time,” only to lose her health insurance when she was diagnosed with Cancer because the insurer jacked up her premiums so high she could no longer afford them.
“I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law,” the President said. “It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about 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 will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.”
The President concluded by saying:
With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. And now is the time to keep our 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 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.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.”
For more information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature Health Care Law, see A More Secure Future; What the New Health Law Means for You and Your Family, on the White House website.
To read for yourself the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and find out in more detail what it in it, see HealthCare.gov, where you will find the full text of the Affordable Care Act, along with a Section by Section presentation and analysis of what is in it.
See related HelpingYouCare™ reports on:
Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law – Individual Mandate Upheld as a Tax; Medicaid Expansion Made Voluntary to States (reporting in detail on the Supreme Court’s opinion, holdings, and reasoning)
Justices Kagan & Breyer Saved Medicaid Expansion by Voting with Chief Justice Roberts (Commentary and analysis on how the Justices voted)
Transcripts of Supreme Court Arguments on Health Care Law Suggest Possible Support for the Law (predicting the outcome, based on transcripts of the oral arguments)
Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Health Care Law March 26-28, 2012 (outlining the issues that were before the Supreme Court)
U.S. Government Appeals Health Care Law Litigation to Supreme Court (outlining the issues appealed to Supreme Court, and the background of the litigation on the Health Care Law)
11th Circuit Appeals Panel Strikes Insurance Mandate, Upholds Rest of Health Care Law (detail on the 11th Circuit Court Opinion that was under review by the Supreme Court)
For more news and information on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (which some call “Obamacare”) and health care reform, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on VoicesForCare™, including:
- News on Health Care Reform;
- Editorials: What Needs Improvement, With Your Comments;
- Advocacy: Proposals for Reform, With Your Comments;
- Legislation: Pending & Recently Adopted; and
- International Health Care Compare: Information on Health Care & Long-Term Care Solutions in Other Countries.
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