Here is a posting from Obama’s address we wanted to share.
January 24, 2012 — In his third State of the Union address, President Barack Obama tonight spent hardly any time talking about the state of healthcare, giving short shrift to an issue that has heated partisan blood during his presidency.
Instead, the president issued a clarion call to rebuild an economy “where hard work pays off,” good jobs multiply, and fairness rules.
“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” Obama told a joint session of Congress. ”Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
President Barack Obama
The president decried an economy “weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits.” He came down hard on banks and other financial institutions that make “risky bets” with their customers’ money.
In his 70-minute speech, Obama mentioned either “healthcare” or “health insurance” only 3 times, compared to 6 references in 2011 and 10 in 2010. Medicare and Medicaid were each mentioned just once.
Some Defense of Healthcare Reform
Obama briefly displayed some fight in defending the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was passed during the first year of his administration.
“I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men,” Obama said. He also attempted to defang the accusation that the ACA represents socialized medicine by observing that it “relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”
Other than that, Obama did not discuss healthcare reform. Perhaps he and administration lawyers were saving their words for the Supreme Court in late March, when they will argue in defense of the individual mandate and the dramatic expansion of the Medicaid program. If the high court invalidates the mandate, it may also strike down the entire law, as ACA critics are urging it to do.
Obama’s relative silence on healthcare also may have reflected frustration. After all, 2011 was another year of head-butting on the subject with Republican members of Congress that produced little to brag about. House Republicans voted symbolically to repeal the ACA while Senate Republicans denied Donald Berwick, MD — Obama’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and implement much of the ACA — Senate confirmation to his post. That roadblock forced the president to put Dr. Berwick on the job through a short-lived recess appointment. The well-known advocate of patient safety resigned from his post late last year before his term expired.
Meanwhile, Obama and congressional Republicans sparred in 2011 over how to reduce the massive federal deficit — an endeavor that always led to the subject of corralling Medicare costs. House Republicans voted to privatize the program by giving beneficiaries who turn 65 in 2022 a subsidy to purchase health coverage from a private insurer. Obama denounced that proposal but offered his own plan to wring $248 billion in savings from Medicare, in part by cutting provider reimbursement and raising premiums and deductibles for some seniors. Neither legislative proposal has yet gained traction.
In tonight’s speech, Obama said he is prepared to “make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, as long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.”
Medicare Status Quo Unaffordable, Says GOP in Response
In the official GOP response to Obama’s speech, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Jr dwelled on healthcare more than the president did. But rather than focusing on the ACA, Daniels — a former executive with drug company Eli Lilly — took Obama and Democrats in Congress to task for their supposed unwillingness to perform drastic surgery on Medicare and Social Security.
“We must unite to save the safety net,” said Daniels. “Medicare and Social Security have served us well, and that must continue. But after half and three quarters of a century, respectively, it’s not surprising that they need some repairs. We can preserve them unchanged and untouched for those now in or near retirement, but we must fashion a new, affordable safety net so future Americans are protected, too.”
Regarding the economy, Daniel chastised Obama for harboring antagonism toward business and promoting a “pro-poverty policy.” The president inherited fiscal and economic crises only to make them worse, he said, pointing to high unemployment and mounting federal debt.
“The president’s grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery,” said Daniels. “He seems to sincerely believe we can build a middle class out of government jobs paid for with borrowed dollars.”
shared from: Medscape.