At the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, President Barack Obama continued his push for health care reform. His speech on Sept. 15 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center was delivered to a crowd of union members from across the country, overwhelmingly in support of his mission.
|PUSHING HEALTH CARE—President Barack Obama addresses the delegates attending the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh.
“We have talked this issue to death. Nothing in the plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor,” Obama said. “In the United States of America, no one should have to go broke just because they got sick.”
To drive home his point on the need for health care reform, Obama cited a report released on Sept. 15 by the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows that family health coverage premiums have risen more than 130 percent over the past 10 years. In comparison, he said this is three times faster than the increase in wages.
“That’s not just the fault of an employer, it’s the fault of a broken health care system that’s sucking up all the money. It makes sense. It’ll save money and it’ll save lives. It’s time to give the opportunity to Americans that Congress gives to themselves.”
Obama said his health care plan would cost $900 billion over 10 years. He said this amount is less than what has been spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as the tax cuts given to the “wealthiest few Americans” under the previous administration.
In order to pay for this plan, Obama said he would work at eliminating waste in the current health care system, such as “subsidies for insurance companies that pad their profits but don’t improve care.” He also pressed that he will not take money away from Medicare to pay for his plan.
“That’s how we’ll pay for most of this plan—by using money that’s already being spent, but spent badly,” Obama said. “We will not pay for health insurance reform by adding to our deficits—I will not sign a bill that adds a dime to our deficits, either now or in the future.”
In light of the setting, Obama pushed the importance of growing the middle-class and strengthening America’s labor industry.
“That’s why the very first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act to uphold the basic principle of equal pay for equal work,” Obama said. “And that’s why I stand behind the Employee Free Choice Act—because if a majority of workers want a union, they should get a union.”
Throughout his speech Obama also tried to highlight what growth the economy has seen since its initial downturn. He said because of the American Recovery Act “many middle class families will see their incomes go up by about $3,000.”
“So, while I know times are still tough for working people, while I know too many folks are still looking for work or worried they’ll be the next ones let go, the Recovery Act is making a difference,” Obama said. “We have stopped our economic freefall. That is something everyone can agree on.”