President Obama went back out on the campaign trail today. This time, he campaigned for health care reform at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
Here is part of what he had to say:
The price of health care is one of the most punishing costs for families and for businesses and for our government. It’s forcing people to cut back or go without health insurance. It forces small businesses to choose between hiring or health care. It’s plunging the federal government deeper and deeper and deeper into debt.
The young people who are here, you’ve heard stories — some of you guys still have health care while you’re in school, some of you may still be on your parents’ plans, but some of the highest uninsurance rates are among young people. And it’s getting harder and harder to find a job that’s going to provide you with health care. And a lot of you right now feel like you’re invincible so you don’t worry about it. But let me tell you, when you hit 48 you start realizing, things start breaking down a little bit.
And the insurance companies continue to ration health care based on who’s sick and who’s healthy; on who can pay and who can’t pay. That’s the status quo in America, and it is a status quo that is unsustainable for this country. We can’t have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people. We need to give families and businesses more control over their own health insurance. And that’s why we need to pass health care reform — not next year, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, but now.
Now, since we took this issue on a year ago, there have been plenty of folks in Washington who’ve said that the politics is just too hard. They’ve warned us we may not win. They’ve argued now is not the time for reform. It’s going to hurt your poll numbers. How is it going to affect Democrats in November? Don’t do it now.
My question to them is: When is the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?
He did not go easy on the insurance companies…
See, these insurance companies have made a calculation. Listen to this. The other day, there was a conference call that was organized by Goldman Sachs. You know Goldman Sachs. You’ve been hearing about them, right? So they organized a conference call in which an insurance broker was telling Wall Street investors how he expected things to be playing out over the next several years, and this broker said that insurance companies know they will lose customers if they keep on raising premiums, but because there’s so little competition in the insurance industry, they’re okay with people being priced out of the insurance market because, first of all, a lot of folks are going to be stuck, and even if some people drop out, they’ll still make more money by raising premiums on customers that they keep.
And they will keep on doing this for as long as they can get away with it. This is no secret. They’re telling their investors this: We are in the money; we are going to keep on making big profits even though a lot of folks are going to be put under hardship.
So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage? All those young people out here, after you graduate you’re going to be looking for a job. Think about the environment that’s going to be out there when a whole bunch of potential employers just tell you, you know what, we just can’t afford it. Or, you know what, we’re going to have to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck because the insurance company just jacked up our rates.
How many years — how many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid? That’s the debt you’re going to have to pay, young people. When is the right time for health insurance reform?
Brian Williams of NBC News called these “fighting words.” To me, it sounds more like a responsible parent trying to convince a rebellious child of the need to eat his or her vegetables.
A full transcript of the President’s remarks is available at the White House website.