Obama On The Stump: Don’t Turn Back The Clock On Health Reform

In a pair of speeches on Saturday, President  Obama fired up Democratic party faithful in Ohio and Virginia. He spoke about his plans for — and record on — Medicare, health insurance and birth control. And he vowed that the country “will not go back to the days when insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy.”

Here is a transcript of the excerpts of the health care parts of his speech in Columbus, Ohio:

Now we face a choice.  For the last few years, the Republicans who run this Congress have insisted that we go right back to the policies that created this mess. But to borrow a line from my friend Bill Clinton, now their agenda is on steroids.  This time, they want even bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  This time, they want even deeper cuts to things like education and Medicare, and research and technology.

We know that our economy grows when we support research into medical breakthroughs and new technologies that lead to the next Internet app or life-saving drug.

We know that our country is stronger when we can count on affordable health insurance and Medicare and Social Security. When we protect our kids from toxic dumping and mercury pollution.  When there are rules to make sure we aren’t taken advantage of by credit card companies and mortgage lenders and financial institutions.  And we know these rules aren’t just good for seniors, or kids, or consumers — they’re good for business, too.  They’re part of what makes the market work.

Look, we don’t expect government to solve all our problems, and it shouldn’t try.  I learned from my mom that no education policy can take the place of a parent’s love and affection.  As a young man, I worked with a group of Catholic churches who taught me that no poverty program can make as much of a difference as the kindness and commitment of a caring soul.  Not every regulation is smart.  Not every tax dollar is spent wisely.  Not every person can be helped who refuses to help themselves.

But that’s not an excuse to tell the vast majority of responsible, hardworking Americans, ‘You’re on your own.’  That unless you’re lucky enough to have parents who can lend you money, you may not be able to go to college.  That even if you pay your premiums every month, you’re out of luck if an insurance company decides to drop your coverage when you need it most.

I refuse to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut by eliminating medical research projects into things like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  I refuse to pay for another tax cut by kicking children off of Head Start programs; or asking students to pay more for college; or eliminating health insurance for millions of poor and elderly and disabled Americans on Medicaid.

And as long as I’m President of the United States, I will never allow Medicare to be turned into a voucher that would end the program as we know it.  We will not go back to the days when our citizens spent their golden years at the mercy of private insurance companies.  We will reform Medicare — not by shifting the cost of care to seniors, but by reducing the spending that isn’t making people healthier. That’s what’s at stake in this election.  That’s what’s at stake, Ohio.

On issue after issue, we can’t afford to spend the next four years going backward.  America doesn’t need to refight the battles we just had over Wall Street reform and health care reform.  On health care reform, here is what I know:  Allowing 2.5 million young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan — that was the right thing to do.  Cutting prescription drug costs for seniors — that was the right thing to do. I will not go back to the days when insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, or deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.  We’re not going back there.  We’re going forward.  

“We don’t need another political fight about ending a woman’s right to choose, or getting rid of Planned Parenthood — or taking away access to affordable birth control.  I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons.  We are not turning back the clock.  We are moving forward.