Weekly Address: President Obama – Celebrating 50 Years of Medicare and Medicaid

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President celebrated the fiftieth birthdays of Medicare and Medicaid, which together have allowed millions to live longer and better lives. These programs are a promise that if we work hard, and play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded with a basic measure of dignity, security, and the freedom to live our lives as we want. Every American deserves the sense of safety and security that comes with health insurance. That’s why the President signed the Affordable Care Act, and that’s why he will continue to work to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are fundamental to our way of life, stay strong.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Celebrating Fifty Years of Medicare and Medicaid

Remarks of President Barack Obama, Weekly Address, The White House, August 1, 2015

Hi, everybody. This week, there was a big birthday you might have missed. Medicare and Medicaid turned 50 years old. And that’s something worth celebrating.

If one of the best measures of a country is how it treats its more vulnerable citizens — seniors, the poor, the sick — then America has a lot to be proud of. Think about it. Before Social Security, too many seniors lived in poverty. Before Medicare, only half had some form of health insurance. Before Medicaid, parents often had no help covering the cost of care for a child with a disability.

But as Americans, we declared that our citizens deserve a basic measure of security and dignity. And today, the poverty rate for seniors is less than half of what it was fifty years ago. Every American over 65 has access to affordable health care. And today, we’re finally finishing the job — since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law, the uninsured rate for all Americans has fallen by about one-third. These promises we made as a nation have saved millions of our own people from poverty and hardship, allowing us new freedom, new independence, and the chance to live longer, better lives. That’s something to be proud of. It’s heroic. These endeavors — these American endeavors — they didn’t just make us a better country. They reaffirmed that we are a great country.

And a great country keeps the promises it makes. Today, we’re often told that Medicare and Medicaid are in crisis. But that’s usually a political excuse to cut their funding, privatize them, or phase them out entirely — all of which would undermine their core guarantee. The truth is, these programs aren’t in crisis. Nor have they kept us from cutting our deficits by two-thirds since I took office. What is true is that every month, another 250,000 Americans turn 65 years old, and become eligible for Medicare. And we all deserve a health care system that delivers efficient, high-quality care. So to keep these programs strong, we’ll have to make smart changes over time, just like we always have.

Today, we’re actually proving that’s possible. The Affordable Care Act has already helped secure Medicare’s funding for another 13 years. The Affordable Care Act has saved more than nine million folks on Medicare 15 billion dollars on their prescription medicine. It has expanded Medicaid to help cover 12.8 million more Americans, and to help more seniors live independently. And we’re moving our health care system toward models that reward the quality of the care you receive, not the quantity of care you receive. That means healthier Americans and a healthier federal budget.

Today, these programs are so fundamental to our way of life that it’s easy to forget how hard people fought against them at the time. When FDR created Social Security, critics called it socialism. When JFK and LBJ worked to create Medicare, the cynics said it would take away our freedom. But ultimately, we came to see these programs for what they truly are — a promise that if we work hard, and play by the rules, we’ll be rewarded with a basic measure of dignity, security, and the freedom to live our lives as we want.

It’s a promise that previous generations made to us, and a promise that our generation has to keep.

Thanks, and have a great weekend

Bolding added.

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  2 comments for “Weekly Address: President Obama – Celebrating 50 Years of Medicare and Medicaid

  1. JanF
    August 2, 2015 at 8:12 am

    President Obama:

    … a great country keeps the promises it makes. Today, we’re often told that Medicare and Medicaid are in crisis. But that’s usually a political excuse to cut their funding, privatize them, or phase them out entirely — all of which would undermine their core guarantee.The truth is, these programs aren’t in crisis.

    Here, let me fix that:

    One of our political parties thrives on cravenly appealing to the fears of those who depend on Social Security and Medicare, telling them that if they don’t vote for Republicans the money will run out and they will all die. They are really full of bull, but hey, it is all they have! If seniors stopped voting for them, they would become the Whig Party and we could relegate them to the dustbin of history and finally get some stuff done around here.

    THIS is the Republican view of Medicare:

    … if [people] do not stop the proposed medical program, “we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.” ~ Ronald Reagan

  2. JanF
    August 2, 2015 at 8:46 am

    A couple of days ago, the president signed a three month extension of the federal highway bill instead of the 6 year authorization everyone had hoped would be passed.

    Transcript

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am about to sign a three-month extension of our highway funding. And that’s a good thing, because if this wasn’t in front of me and ready for signature, we would end up having projects all across the country that would be closing after midnight.

    On the other hand, we have now made it a habit where instead of five-year funding plans for transportation, instead of long-term approaches where we can actually strategize on what are the most important infrastructure projects, how are they getting paid for, providing certainties to governors and mayors and states and localities about how they’re going to approach critical infrastructure projects — roads, bridges, ports, airports — instead, we operate as if we’re hand-to-mouth three months at a time, which freezes a lot of construction, which makes people uncertain, which leads to businesses not being willing to hire because they don’t have any long-term certainty. It’s a bad way for the U.S. government to do business.

    So I want to make sure that before I sign this, Congress gets a clear message, and that is we should not be leaving all the business of the U.S. government to the last minute. […]

    Congress has had all year to do a budget, and yet Congress is leaving on vacation [for 6 weeks] without the budget done. And when they get back, they’re going to have about two weeks in order to do the people’s business. […]

    We can’t keep on funding transportation by the seat of our pants, three months at a time. It’s just not how the greatest country on Earth should be doing its business.

    I guarantee you this is not how China, Germany, other countries around the world — other big, powerful countries around the world handle their infrastructure. We can’t have bridges collapsing and potholes not being filled because Congress can’t come up with an adequate plan to fund our infrastructure budget for more than three or five or six months at a time.

    With that, I’m going to sign this. And I hope that members of Congress are listening, and I hope that Republicans can work things out among themselves as well as work out things with Democrats. I think we’ve got to do some intra-party negotiations as well as negotiations between the parties.

    As the president pointed out, the negotiations include three parties, the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republican Party, the burn-it-all-down-and-let-god-(literally!)-sort-it-all-out wing of the Republican Party … and the Democrats. I recommend that the CoC wing look long and hard at who their political partners are and realize that sponsoring the Republican Party’s nihilism may not be such a good idea. We won’t break the impasse until we have a Congress interested in governing rather than pleasing their increasingly insane base.

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