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Text: Obama calls health reform key to improving economy

August 8, 2009 |  1:45 pm

In his weekly radio and Internet address, President Obama said healthcare reform could bolster an economy on the rebound. In the Republican response, Bob McDonnell, the GOP nominee for Virginia governor, noted that unemployment remains too high and criticized efforts to expand the federal government’s role in healthcare.

Obama’s remarks, as prepared by the White House:

On Friday, we received better news than we expected about the state of our economy. We learned that we lost 247,000 jobs in July – some 200,000 fewer jobs lost than in June, and far fewer than the nearly 700,000 a month we were losing at the beginning of the year. Of course, this is little comfort to anyone who saw their job disappear in July, and to the millions of Americans who are looking for work. And I will not rest until anyone who’s looking for work can find a job.

Still, this month’s jobs numbers are a sign that we’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and that the worst may be behind us. But we must do more than rescue our economy from this immediate crisis; we must rebuild it stronger than before. We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform – reform that we are now closer to achieving than ever before.

There are still details to be hammered out. There are still differences to be reconciled. But we are moving toward a broad consensus on reform. Four committees in Congress have produced legislation – an unprecedented level of agreement on a difficult and complex challenge. In addition to the ongoing work in Congress, providers have agreed to bring down costs. Drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The AARP supports reform because...

of the better care it will offer seniors. And the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, which represent the millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, support reform, as well.

As we draw close to finalizing – and passing – real health insurance reform, the defenders of the status quo and political point-scorers in Washington are growing fiercer in their opposition. In recent days and weeks, some have been using misleading information to defeat what they know is the best chance of reform we have ever had. That is why it is important, especially now, as Senators and Representatives head home and meet with their constituents, for you, the American people, to have all the facts.President Obama

So, let me explain what reform will mean for you.  And let me start by dispelling the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid, or bring about a government takeover of health care. That’s simply not true. This isn’t about putting government in charge of your health insurance; it’s about putting you in charge of your health insurance. Under the reforms we seek, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

And while reform is obviously essential for the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, it will also provide more stability and security to the hundreds of millions who do. Right now, we have a system that works well for the insurance industry, but that doesn’t always work well for you.  What we need, and what we will have when we pass health insurance reform, are consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and that insurance companies are held accountable.

We will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies, or eye and foot exams for diabetics, so we can avoid chronic illnesses that cost too many lives and too much money.

We will stop insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history.  I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition. I have met so many Americans who worry about the same thing. That’s why, under these reforms, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a previous illness or injury. And insurance companies will no longer be allowed to drop or water down coverage for someone who has become seriously ill. Your health insurance ought to be there for you when it counts – and reform will make sure it is.

With reform, insurance companies will also have to limit how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses.  And we will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime because no one in America should go broke because of illness.

In the end, the debate about health insurance reform boils down to a choice between two approaches. The first is almost guaranteed to double health costs over the next decade, make millions more Americans uninsured, leave those with insurance vulnerable to arbitrary denials of coverage, and bankrupt state and federal governments. That’s the status quo. That’s the health care system we have right now.

So, we can either continue this approach, or we can choose another one – one that will protect people against unfair insurance practices; provide quality, affordable insurance to every American; and bring down rising costs that are swamping families, businesses, and our budgets. That’s the health care system we can bring about with reform.

There are those who are focused on the so-called politics of health care; who are trying to exploit differences or concerns for political gain.  That’s to be expected. That’s Washington. But let’s never forget that this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future. That’s what is at stake. That’s why health insurance reform is so important. And that’s why we must get this done – and why we will get this done – by the end of this year.

Thank you. 

                                                 _____________________________

Prepared remarks by Bob McDonnell, as prepared by McDonnell's office:

Hi, I’m Bob McDonnell from Virginia.

Times are tough in our state, and in yours.

Yesterday’s jobs report is yet another reminder that families and small businesses are struggling as unemployment remains high.

Here in Virginia, we face unemployment rates at a twenty-five year high.

As I travel throughout Virginia, I listen to our people who are concerned about the jobs they have, worried about finding the jobs they need, and concerned about what jobs will be available for their kids in the years ahead.Bob McDonnell and daughter

As a father of five, I share those same concerns; that’s why our main goal is to bring Virginians together to create jobs and more opportunities all across our state.

And we want government at all levels to be a partner in promoting small businesses and entrepreneurship.

As Republicans, we believe you create jobs by keeping taxes and regulation low, and litigation at a minimum.

Americans succeed when government puts in place positive policies that encourage more freedom, and more opportunity.

Right now Virginians are particularly concerned about federal cap-and-trade legislation. This legislation would amount to a huge new national energy tax. If implemented, electricity rates would skyrocket and jobs would be lost.

Two weeks ago I was in Covington, in Western Virginia; I visited Mead Westvaco, an international packaging company. It’s the largest employer in the area, providing 1500 good jobs. They told me the cap-and-trade legislation, if passed, would threaten those jobs. Mark George, the vice-president of the facility, told me this, ‘I feel that the next governor of Virginia, and every representative we have, should care about keeping those good jobs in Virginia; I agree.

We must do everything we can to keep and grow jobs in Virginia, and every state in the Union. That’s why we strongly oppose cap-and-trade, a job-killing energy tax that would put American companies at a tremendous competitive disadvantage with employers in other countries; it’s the wrong policy for a nation struggling with the worst economy in generations. That’s why we’ve fought against the job-killing card-check legislation being pushed by big national labor unions and Democrats in Congress.

It’s why we are committed to helping more Americans get the healthcare and coverage they need; not through nationalizing the system with a costly government-run plan, but rather by supporting free-market incentives and helping small business owners make coverage more accessible and affordable, and ensuring that Americans can keep their individual private policies.

Government must be more efficient, and more accountable; which is why we are calling for an end to runaway government spending that is leading to an exploding deficit and burdening our children with new debt that they will have to repay.

The cornerstone of our founders system of federalism is that the states are the laboratories of democracy, where new ideas can be tried and innovations unleashed. I’m calling for environmentally friendly offshore drilling, selling our state-run liquor stores to put more cash into transportation, and expanding access for Virginia students at our colleges.

I’ve said that the President is right in his call for real education reform, with more charter schools, and performance pay for great teachers and principals. Now that’s a bipartisan reform that will help all our children get the education they need today to get those good jobs of tomorrow.

Together, we will use innovation and free-markets to bring new jobs and more opportunities to Virginia, and America.

Have a great weekend!

-- Steve Padilla 

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Top photo: President Obama. Credit: Getty Images. Bottom photo: Bob McDonnell and daughter Jeanine at Virginia State Republican Convention in May. Credit: Associated Press
 

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