President Barack Obama Addresses AFL-CIO

Tuesday, Semptember 15TH, 2009 at 4:47pm
Hard Work & Health Insurance
Posted by Jesse Lee from the White House Blog

Having spent the morning with Ohio GM workers, the President traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to talk to the hard-working Americans at the AFL-CIO Convention. The enthusiasm the crowd showed for health insurance reform was palpable, and you could hear the President getting “fired up and ready to go” with them:

And, yes, we’ll grow our middle class by finally providing quality, affordable health insurance in this country. Health care can’t wait. It can’t wait. Few have fought — few have fought for this cause harder, few have championed it longer than you, our brothers and sisters in organized labor. You’re making phone calls, knocking on doors, showing up at rallies — because you know why this is so important. You know this isn’t just about the millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance, it’s about the hundreds of millions more who do; Americans who worry that they’ll lose their insurance if they lose their job; who fear their coverage will be denied because of a preexisting condition; who know that one accident or illness could mean financial ruin.

In fact, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation was released today showing that family premiums rose more than 130 percent over the last 10 years — three times faster than wages. They now average over $13,000 a year, the highest amount on record, which is why when you go in to negotiate, you can’t even think about negotiating for a salary — a wage increase because the whole negotiation is about trying to keep the benefits you already have.

That’s not just the fault of the employer, it’s the fault of a broken health care system that’s sucking up all the money. When are we going to stop it? When are we going to say enough is enough? How many more workers have to lose their coverage? How many more families have to go into the red for a sick loved one? How much longer are we going to have to wait? It can’t wait.


We can’t wait. My friends, we have talked — we have talked this issue to death, year after year, decade after decade. That’s why I said last week before a joint session of Congress, I said, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to deliver on health insurance reform.

The plan I announced will offer more security and more stability to Americans who have insurance. It will offer insurance to Americans who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.

If you already have health insurance through your job — and because many of you are members of unions, you do — nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change your coverage or your doctor. Let me repeat: Nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.

What this plan will do is make your insurance work better for you. It’ll be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. It will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick, or water it down when you need it the most. They won’t be able to place some arbitrary cap on how much coverage you can receive in a given year or a given lifetime. We’ll place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses — because in the United States of America, nobody should go broke just because they got sick.

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