Barack Obama: “No tweaks can change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

President Barack Obama took to Facebook yesterday to weigh in on the Republican Party’s legislation to repeal healthcare:

“Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.”

“We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.”

  • Barack Obama, June 22, 2017

  10 comments for “Barack Obama: “No tweaks can change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.”

  1. JanF
    June 23, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Barack Obama:

    Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

    Thanks, President Obama!

  2. JanF
    June 23, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Charlie Pierce: A Message to Trump Voters on the Occasion of This Healthcare Bill

    “Hello, suckers.

    Yeah, you. All of you. All of you people who’ve been buying what the radicalized Republican party has been selling you since Reagan rode out of Trickledown Gulch back in 1980. All of you who easily gobbled up the fictions about welfare queens, and “crazy checks,” and big black bucks buying T-Bone steaks, and, most recently, of immigrants come to steal your jobs and cut your throats in the night. All of you who worried so profoundly about your neighbors who were black, or Hispanic, or Muslim that you handed the government to the people who have been picking your pocket and selling off your birthright for going on four decades.

    And, especially, all of you morons who bought what the inevitable product of 30 years of fear-driven democratic malpractice was selling across the country in 2016: that he had a plan that would lower costs, cover everybody, and not touch Social Security, Medicaid, or Medicare.

    Today is not the day for you to ask for my understanding as to how you’re going to afford Grandma’s chemo now that she’s busted the lifetime cap on her insurance. Today is not the day for you to ask for my sympathy for Grandpa who’s going to get his ass hoisted out of his rest home and dropped onto the couch in your basement family room because his Medicaid ran out. Today is not the day for you to moan into TV cameras about how Cousin Clyde with the opioid problem has to go back to sticking up tourists for his fix because the little hospital up by the mountain closed.

    Not today. Not this particular Thursday. Maybe by Monday.”

    There is more.

  3. JanF
    June 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

    President Obama is probably hoping that Shelly Capito is one of the Senators who might have a beating heart. I am not sure – in this video she seems to be trying to suggest that the daughter is on Medicaid and is therefore unworthy. Because in Republican World, bad luck is a character flaw.

  4. Denise Velez
    June 23, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Thanks Jan – wondered where you were this morning – I see you have been busy – glad to see this post – tweeted!

    • JanF
      June 23, 2017 at 7:29 am

      I had to go scrape his words off of Facebook. It kicked me out and crashed my browser 3 times! I suspect that his Facebook page was very popular yesterday. :)

  5. JanF
    June 23, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Elizabeth Warren:

  6. bfitzinAR
    June 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Thanks Jan – not on FB or twitter so heard about this but didn’t read it. I appreciate you putting it where I could. Barack Obama is a good man and was a good president. And I guess I’ll leave it at that right now.

  7. kathy from pa
    June 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    This is going to hurt all but the wealthy. I’m pretty sure my plan at work will be not changed too much, but I am at retirement age and have no family so at some point the destruction of Medicaid is going to be catastrophic. But I’m one of the fortunate ones and they’re going to make a lot of people die sooner and harder

    • JanF
      June 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      Medicaid being rolled back will be terrible for anyone who needs nursing homes.

      Dying “sooner and harder”, indeed. :(

  8. JanF
    June 23, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    The “death party”. Indeed.

    @HillaryClinton: “Forget death panels. If Republicans pass this bill, they’re the death party.” https://twitter.com/topherspiro/status/877967631734538242

    @TopherSpiro: “NEW: From us and Harvard researchers: the Senate bill could result in 18,000 to 28,000 deaths in 2026.”
    https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/healthcare/news/2017/06/22/434917/coverage-losses-senate-health-care-bill-result-18100-27700-additional-deaths-2026/

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