President Obama Delivers Remarks on Health Care Reform at the American Medical Association's Annual Meeting in Chicago
Tuesday, June 23, 2009; 1:36 PM
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please, everybody, be seated. Thank you very much. You're very kind. Thank you.
Let me begin by thanking Nancy for the wonderful introduction. I want to thank Dr. Joseph Heyman, the chair of the board of the trustees, as well as Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, speaker of house of delegates. Thanks to all of you for bringing me home, even if it's just for a day.
You know, 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. And 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.
OBAMA: But even as we've made progress, we know that the road to prosperity remains long and it remains difficult. 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.
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.