Reforming Health Insurance, Reforming Washington

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The President spoke in the Rose Garden today on health insurance reform, but began his remarks by praising the Senate vote on F-22 funding. The President is committed to changing the way we do business in Washington, whether that means finding common ground on health care or eliminating waste and inefficiency in our defense projects. The President explained that today’s vote in the Senate against $1.75 billion in funds for additional F-22 fighter jets, which both parties agree are unnecessary, will free up money for more critical matters:
But I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense projects to keep this nation secure.  That's why I’ve taken steps to greatly reduce no-bid defense contracts.  That's why I've signed overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation to limit cost overruns on weapons systems before they spiral out of control.  And that's why I'm grateful that the Senate just voted against an additional $1.75 billion to buy F-22 fighter jets that military experts and members of both parties say we do not need.
At a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, this would have been an inexcusable waste of money.  Every dollar of waste in our defense budget is a dollar we can’t spend to support our troops, or prepare for future threats, or protect the American people.  Our budget is a zero-sum game, and if more money goes to F-22s, it is our troops and citizens who lose. 
The President is committed to fiscal discipline, and health care costs are the biggest drivers of our deficit. That is why the status quo is unacceptable, and we must reform health care now to bring down costs, while expanding coverage and providing choice. As both the House and the Senate work to craft their bills, we are closer than ever before to comprehensive health care reform and the consensus continues to build. The President outlined the common ground that has been reached on substantial issues:
We've agreed that our health reform bill will extend coverage and include unprecedented insurance protections for the American people.  Under each of these bills, you won't be denied coverage if you've got a preexisting medical condition.  You won't lose your health care if you change jobs, if you lose your job, or if you start a business.  And you won't lose your insurance if you get sick.
We've agreed that our health reform bill will promote choice.  America -- Americans will be able to compare the price and quality of different plans, and pick the plan that they want. If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it.  Let me repeat that:  If you like your plan, you'll be able to keep it.  And each bill provides for a public option that will keep insurance companies honest, ensuring the competition necessary to make coverage affordable.
We've agreed that our health reform bill will emphasize prevention and wellness.  By investing in programs that help Americans live healthier lives, we will save money, prevent illness, and increase the competitiveness of our country.  We've agreed that our health reform bill will protect American families from financial catastrophe if they get sick.  That's why each of these bills has out-of-pocket limits that will help ensure that families don't go bankrupt because of illness.  And we have agreed that our health reform bill will include dramatic measures to cut costs while improving quality. 
Each of these bills improves oversight while cracking down on waste.  Each will help reduce unwarranted giveaways to insurance companies in Medicare.  And each of these bills will provide incentives so that patients get the best care, not just the most expensive care.
The consensus that we've forged is not limited to Congress. Indeed, we've forged a level of consensus on health care that has never been reached in the history of this country.  Health care providers have agreed to do their part to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending.  The pharmaceutical industry has agreed to spending reductions that will make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.  Hospitals have agreed to bring down costs.  The American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, who represent millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, have announced their support for reform.
(President Barack Obama makes a statement on health care reform in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, July 21, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Even as consensus builds on these critical issues, the President knows the road ahead will not be easy. Those who are committed to the status quo will fight to delay and defeat reform, as they’ve done before. But the President is committed to bringing change to Washington, and he knows that this isn’t about political games, it is about the American people:
So I understand that some will try to delay action until the special interests can kill it, while others will simply focus on scoring political points.  We've done that before.  And we can choose to follow that playbook again, and then we'll never get over the goal line, and we'll face an even greater crisis in the years to come.  That's one path we can travel.
Or, we can come together and insist that this time it will be different.  We can choose action over inaction.  We can choose progress over the politics of the moment.  We can build on the extraordinary common ground that's been forged, and we can do the hard work needed to finally pass the health insurance reform that the American people deserve.
And I can guarantee you that when we do pass this bill, history won't record the demands for endless delay or endless debates in the news cycle –- it will record the hard work done by the members of Congress to pass the bill, and the fact that the people who sent us here to Washington insisted upon change. That's the work that we've come here to do, and I look forward to working with Congress in the days ahead to getting the job done.
 
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