The president had some sharp words for insurance companies and Congress.
Insurance reform, affordable options and reined-in costs — sounds simple enough to make our health-care system work.
But more than a year after the debate on health-care reform started, President Obama explained to a group at a suburban Philadelphia university on Monday that every proposal has been put on the table and that every argument has been exhausted.
And that it’s time for action.
“I know a lot of people view this as a partisan issue, but both parties have found areas where we agree,” Obama told some 2,000 assembled at Arcadia University in Glenside. “What we’ve ended up with is a proposal that’s somewhere in the middle – one that incorporates the best (ideas) from Democrats and Republicans.”
This plan up calls for accountability across the board and puts an end to what Obama calls “the worst practices of insurance companies.”
In his 38-minute speech, Obama called out those companies.
“They will keep on doing this for as long as they can get away with it,” he said. “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.”
Under the plan, those with pre-existing conditions would be able to purchase health insurance on their own within the first year of the legislation passing. The same would go for children with pre-existing conditions.
The insurance companies also would be barred from arbitrarily raising premiums and from dropping coverage in times of illness. The legislation also focuses on preventive care.
Other than the president’s entrance, the loudest round of applause from the morning crowd came when he said that young people who are insured under their parents’ health plans would have coverage until age 26.
Obama said the plan allows for uninsured Americans and small-business owners to have access to a wide array of private health insurance. Small businesses, he said, have the option to enter a pool with similar companies to have increased bargaining power when dealing with an insurance provider.
“We’ll set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of American’s are able to by insurance,” Obama said. “They’re going to have 30 million new customers; there’s nothing wrong with them paying a little bit of the freight.”
Of course, coverage doesn’t come cheap. It’ll take an estimated $100 billion per year to get care for everyone, and the plan would draw from the $2.5 trillion Americans already spend on health care.
The president also called out Congress to make a final vote on the matter.
“It’s time to make a decision.” Obama said. “The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand.”
Mayor Nutter, who was in attendance along with Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Arlen Specter, agreed.
“He’s putting it right out there for the American people,” Nutter said. “They’re getting a chance to hear clearly and directly from the president what his plan is all about. It’s time (for Congress) to vote.”
It’s something that has been a long time coming, says Susan Lemonick of Elkins Park.
“I think that a lot of Americans have been fed with a lot of disinformation so they don’t actually understand what the practical implications of this policy are, so I’ve always felt there had to be public discussion come out to really explain, like talking to a kindergarten, what it means as a practical matter,” said Lemonick, a former lawyer who has been unemployed for months.