Skip to main content

Obama Talks Public Option In AFL-CIO Labor Day Speech

From the prepared text, where he talks about health care reform. The rest of the speech is mostly concerned with labor issues:

We've never been this close. We've never had such broad agreement on what needs to be done. And because we're so close to real reform, the special interests are doing what they always do-trying to scare the American people and preserve the status quo.

But I've got a question for them: What's your answer? What's your solution? The truth is, they don't have one. It's do nothing. And we know what that future looks like. Insurance companies raking in the profits while discriminating against people because of pre-existing conditions and denying or dropping coverage when you get sick. It means you‘re never negotiating about higher wages, because you're spending all your time just protecting the benefits you already have.

It means premiums continuing to skyrocket three times faster than your wages. More families pushed into bankruptcy. More businesses cutting more jobs. More Americans losing their health insurance-14,000 every day. And it means more Americans dying every day just because they don't have insurance.

But that's not the future I see for America. I see reform where we bring stability and security to folks who have insurance today. Where you never again have to worry about going without coverage-if you lose your job, change your job or get sick. Where there is a cap on your out-of-pocket expenses, so you don't have to worry that a serious illness will break you and your family. Where you never again have to worry that you or someone you love will be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

I see reform where Americans and small businesses that are shut out of health insurance today will be able to purchase coverage at a price they can afford. Where they'll be able to shop and compare in a new health insurance exchange-a marketplace where competition and choice will continue to hold down cost and help deliver them a better deal. And I continue to believe that a public option within the basket of insurance choices would help improve quality and bring down costs.

I see reform where we protect our senior citizens by closing the gaps in their Medicare prescription coverage that costs millions of older Americans thousands of dollars every year out of their own pockets; reforms that will preserve Medicare and put it on a sounder financial footing by cutting waste and fraud and the hundreds of billions of dollars in unwarranted public subsidies to an already profitable insurance industry.

I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry. They should be free to make a profit. But they also have to be fair. They also have to be accountable.

Security and stability for folks who have health insurance. Help for those who don't-the coverage they need at a price they can afford.

Finally bringing costs under control. That's the reform we need.

That's the reform we're fighting for. And that's why it's time to do what's right for America's working families. To put aside the partisanship. To come together as a nation. To pass health insurance reform now-this year.