Look, the classic poet, Virgil, once said that “The greatest wealth is health.” The greatest wealth is health. Well, today, America becomes a whole lot wealthier because tens of millions of Americans will be a whole lot healthier from this moment on.
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat.
Thank you, Joe. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good to be with you, Mr. President. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Today, after almost a century of trying; today, after over a year of debate; today, after all the votes have been tallied –- health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. (Applause.) Today.
It is fitting that Congress passed this historic legislation this week. For as we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America. In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform. (Applause.)
And while the Senate still has a last round of improvements to make on this historic legislation — and these are improvements I’m confident they will make swiftly — (applause) — the bill I’m signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for, and marched for, and hungered to see.
It will take four years to implement fully many of these reforms, because we need to implement them responsibly. We need to get this right. But a host of desperately needed reforms will take effect right away. (Applause.)
This year, we’ll start offering tax credits to about 4 million small businessmen and women to help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees. (Applause.) That happens this year.
This year, tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions, the parents of children who have a preexisting condition, will finally be able to purchase the coverage they need. That happens this year. (Applause.)
This year, insurance companies will no longer be able to drop people’s coverage when they get sick. (Applause.) They won’t be able to place lifetime limits or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care they can receive. (Applause.)
This year, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care. And this year, young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26 years old. That happens this year. (Applause.)