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Obama lays it on the line

Posted by John McDonough  January 28, 2014 10:14 PM

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The opposition surely blocked their ears. Tonight, President Obama gave a strong and compelling defense and rationale for the Affordable Care Act.  No defensiveness.  Justifiable pride in one of the major advances in social justice in our modern history.

So let's consider the other State address this evening, President Obama's State of the Union Address. Here is what he said about the ACA (no further comment needed from me):

"One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven't heard, we're in the process of fixing that.

"A pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician amanda shelley.jpgassistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn't get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would've meant bankruptcy.

"That's what health insurance reform is all about -- the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don't have to lose everything. Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents' plans. More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.

"And here's another number: zero. Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she?s a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare's finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

"Now, I don't expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren't interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice -- tell America what you'd do differently. Let's see if the numbers add up. But let's not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that's already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we're for, not just what we're against.

"And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who's here tonight. Kentucky's not the most liberal part of the country, but he's like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth's families. 'They are our friends and neighbors,' he said. 'They are people we shop and go to church with farmers out on the tractors, grocery clerks, they are people who go to work every morning praying they don't get sick. No one deserves to live that way.'

"Steve's right. That's why, tonight, I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind, plus, she'll appreciate hearing from you. After all, that's the spirit that has always moved this nation forward. It's the spirit of citizenship -- the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well."

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

John E. McDonough is a professor of practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011 by More »

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