Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama AMA Speech: Transcript, Video (6-15-09)

Watch the complete video or read the transcript of President Obama's speech before the American Medical Association. Excerpt below:

From the moment I took office as President, the central challenge we've confronted as a nation has been the need to lift ourselves out of the worst recession since World War II. In recent months, we've taken a series of extraordinary steps, not just to repair the immediate damage to our economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting and sustained growth. We're here to create new jobs, to unfreeze our credit markets. We're stemming the loss of homes and the decline of home values.

All this is important. But even as we've made progress, we know that the road to prosperity remains long and it remains difficult. And we also know that one essential step on our journey is to control the spiraling cost of health care in America. And in order to do that, we're going to need the help of the AMA. (Applause.)

Today, we are spending over $2 trillion a year on health care -- almost 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation. And yet, as I think many of you are aware, for all of this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured, the quality of our care is often lower, and we aren't any healthier. In fact, citizens in some countries that spend substantially less than we do are actually living longer than we do.

Make no mistake: The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy. It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America.

It's unsustainable for Americans like Laura Klitzka, a young mother that I met in Wisconsin just last week, who's learned that the breast cancer she thought she'd beaten had spread to her bones, but who's now being forced to spend time worrying about how to cover the $50,000 in medical debts she's already accumulated, worried about future debts that she's going to accumulate, when all she wants to do is spend time with her two children and focus on getting well. These are not the worries that a woman like Laura should have to face in a nation as wealthy as ours. (Applause.)

Stories like Laura's are being told by women and men all across this country -- by families who've seen out-of-pocket costs soar, and premiums double over the last decade at a rate three times faster than wages. This is forcing Americans of all ages to go without the checkups or the prescriptions they need -- that you know they need. It's creating a situation where a single illness can wipe out a lifetime of savings.

Our costly health care system is unsustainable for doctors like Michael Kahn in New Hampshire, who, as he puts it, spends 20 percent of each day supervising a staff explaining insurance problems to patients, completing authorization forms, writing appeal letters -- a routine that he calls disruptive and distracting, giving him less time to do what he became a doctor to do and actually care for his patients. (Applause.)

Iran Election: A Gift to the Israeli Lobby, Neocons

The apparent stolen election in Iran is a victory for those who want to bomb that country. Israel plans on bombing Iran sometime in the near future. A victory for Moussavi would've made it more difficult to argue for an attack on Iran. Now we face more disaster in that region.

Iran's supreme leader may have ordered an investigation into allegations of election fraud, but a near-clampdown on information and conflicting reports from Tehran make it unclear what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's stance really is.

If confirmed, the order would mark a stunning turnaround by the country's most powerful figure and offer hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says, however, that the reports of an investigation being ordered can not be confirmed, and may be premature.

What CBS News can confirm is that the Guardian Council has received pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's official complaint of fraud, and has said it will report back within 10 days.

The President's hands are tied now:
The re-election of Iran's hard-line president and a tough speech by Israel's hawkish prime minister signaled an increasingly difficult road ahead for President Obama's hopes for ending Tehran's nuclear threat and brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

A setback on either foreign policy front would have been unwelcome in the Obama White House, but difficulties on both issues - which are deeply entangled - were likely to slow progress on the president's ambition of changing the landscape across the Middle East.

Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that Mr. Obama's effort to engage Tehran after a nearly three-decade estrangement would continue, nevertheless. Mr. Obama, shifting course from his predecessor, has said he wants to talk to the theocratic regime in Tehran, with the central goal of stopping it from producing a nuclear weapon. He has set a year-end deadline for a positive response to his overture.

AMA Resists Obama's Plan to Reform Health Care Industry

It is the American Medical Association that is responsible for the sad state of the health care industry. And if the President wants to reform it he's got a war on his hands. The Clinton administration learned, to the chagrin of the Democrats, that taking on the AMA is risky politically. And those Congresspeople bought off by the AMA will resist any reform of the health care industry:

President Barack Obama, continuing to barnstorm for his health care proposals, will urge doctors gathered in Chicago to support wider insurance coverage and targeted federal spending cuts.

Obama planned to tell the American Medical Association's annual meeting in his hometown on Monday that overhaul cannot wait and that bringing down costs is the most important thing he can do to ensure the country's long-term fiscal health, a senior administration official said.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the president's remarks before they were delivered.

The nation's doctors, like many other groups, are divided over the president's proposals to reshape the health care delivery system. The White House anticipates heavy spending to cover the almost 50 million Americans who lack health insurance and has taken steps in recent days to outline just where that money could be found.

For instance, Obama wants to cut federal payments to hospitals by about $200 billion and cut $313 billion from Medicare and Medicaid. He also is proposing a $635 billion "down payment" in tax increases and spending cuts in the health care system.

To an audience of doctors Obama plans to say the United States spends too much on health care and gets too little in return. He says the health industry is crushing businesses and families and is leading to millions of Americans losing coverage, the administration official said.

Obama's turn before the 250,000-physician group in his latest effort to persuade skeptics that his goal to provide health care to all Americans is worth the $1 trillion price tag it is expected to run during its first decade.

The president plans to acknowledge the costs. But he also will tell the doctors it is not acceptable for the nation to leave so many without insurance, the official said.

Unified Republicans and some fiscally conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill have said they are nervous about how the administration plans to pay for Obama's ideas.

The New York Times reported Monday that Obama has been quietly making a case for reducing malpractice lawsuits to help control costs, long a goal of the AMA and Republicans. Obama has not endorsed capping jury awards

Obama has got a battle ahead of him:
Obama is up against powerful interests -- with diverse standpoints, and strong messaging and money behind them. (Quick -- list three things the opponents of health-care reform will say about the Obama plan? Now tell us what the Obama plan is.)

He could use the AMA doctors to get it all done. With a 12:15 pm ET address, the president brings a sense of urgency with him to Chicago.

“The president will use this address to the American Medical Association to outline why health care reform that brings down costs can't wait another year or another administration,” a senior administration official tells ABC’s Jake Tapper.

“The president will address the heart of problem of rising costs: that we're spending too much money on treatments that don't make Americans any healthier, and that our system equates more expensive core with better care. He'll lay out his vision for a system that replicates best practices, incentivizes excellence, and closes cost disparities -- and he'll ask for our medical professionals' help in getting the job done.”

He’ll reiterate that his plans “include a health insurance exchange where private plans compete with a public option that drives down costs and expands choice. The president will be clear about what a public option does and doesn't mean for patients, physicians, and our broader health care system.”