Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

I want to talk about health care just for a second. I want to be clear: Reform isn’t just about the nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance. I realize that with all the charges and the criticism being thrown out there in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, “Well, how does my family, or my business, stand to benefit from health insurance reform? What’s in this for me?” Folks are asking that, so I want to answer those questions briefly.

If you have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will give you more security. You just heard Rick’s story. Reform will keep the government out of your health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your coverage if you’re happy with it. So don’t let folks say that somehow we’re going to be forcing government-run health care. It’s just not true. And it will keep the insurance companies out of your health care decisions, too — (applause) — by stopping insurers from cherry-picking who they cover, and holding insurers to a higher standard for what they cover. (Applause.)

You won’t have to worry about receiving a surprise bill in the mail, because we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket. (Applause.)

You won’t have to worry about preexisting conditions, because — (applause) — never again will anyone in America be denied coverage because of a previous illness or injury. (Applause.)

You won’t have to worry about losing coverage if you lose or leave your job, because every American who needs insurance will have access to affordable plans through a health insurance exchange — a marketplace where insurance companies will compete to cover you, not to deny you coverage. (Applause.)

And if you run a small business and you’re looking to provide insurance for your employees, you’ll be able to choose a plan through this exchange, as well. I’ve heard from small business owners across America trying to do the right thing, but year after year premiums rise higher and choices grow more limited. And that’s certainly true right here in Ohio.

Now, if you’re a taxpayer concerned about deficits, I want you to understand I’m concerned about deficits, too. Because in the eight years before we came into office, Washington enacted two large tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, funded two wars — all without paying for it — (laughter and applause) — didn’t pay for it. The national debt doubled. We were handed a $1.3 trillion deficit when we walked in the door — one we necessarily had to add to in the short term to deal with this financial crisis.

Now, I have to tell you, I have to say, that folks have a lot of nerve who helped get us into this fiscal hole and then start going around trying to talk about fiscal responsibility. (Applause.) I’m always a little surprised that people don’t have a little more shame — (laughter) — about having created a mess and then try to point fingers, but that’s another topic. (Laughter.)

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