March 2, 2009
Transcript: Obama, Sebelius
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND HHS SECRETARY NOMINEE KATHLEEN SEBELIUS
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Last week, I unveiled a fiscal blueprint for America’s future — one that reflects the stark reality of our financial crisis while laying a lasting foundation for our common prosperity. It makes both the sacrifices and the investments necessary to tackle the great challenges of our time — challenges we face today as a consequence of decisions we deferred yesterday. And one of these great challenges is health care.
The good news is that we have already done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last month than we have in the last decade. We’ve provided and protected health insurance for 11 million children whose parents work full-time. We’ve invested in preventive care to help keep people from having to go to the doctor in the first place, and in electronic health records and new technology that will ensure privacy while saving billions of dollars and countless lives.
And today, I can announce that under the Recovery Plan we’ve put into action, $155 million will go toward supporting 126 new health centers across America. These health centers will expand access to care by helping people in need — many with no health insurance —- obtain access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care services. That helps relieve the burden on emergency rooms across the country, which have become primary care clinics for too many who lack coverage — often at taxpayer expense. This action will create thousands of new jobs, help provide health care to an estimated 750,000 low-income Americans across the country, and take another important step toward affordable, accessible health care for all.
But our current economic crisis has only heightened the urgency of our health care challenge. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. In each of these years, 1 million Americans have lost their health insurance. The crushing cost of health care causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds; and by the end of this year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. It’s a crisis punishing families, battering businesses, squeezing our states, and increasingly, imperiling our own budget. Health care is one of the fastest-growing expenses in the federal budget, and it’s one we simply cannot sustain.
That is why we cannot fail to act yet again. If we’re going to help families, save businesses, and improve the long-term economic health of our nation, we must realizing [sic] that fixing what’s wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative. Health care reform that reduces costs while expanding coverage is no longer just a dream we hope to achieve — it’s a necessity we have to achieve.
Today, I’m proud to announce key members of the team I’m assembling to help do just that: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for my Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Nancy Ann DeParle as Director of the White House Office for Health