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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act also happens to mark the anniversary of a Saturday radio address delivered exactly 21 years ago by Bill Clinton, who was trying to advance his own administration’s ill-fated attempt at health care reform. As Carl Cannon points out in his always informative “Morning Note” on Real Clear Politics, the president opened on a note of optimism, then reminded his listeners of all the previous presidents who had tried and failed to create a universal health care system for Americans — a roster of frustration that he would soon join. On this historic day, Clinton’s remarks still seem relevant:

For the first time in American history, and after 60 years of reform efforts, committees in both houses of Congress have approved bills that guarantee universal health coverage — coverage to all American families. Anyone who doubts the significance of this need only look at the last half-century. President Roosevelt first tried to reform health care but couldn’t get this far. President Truman tried several times and couldn’t do it. President Nixon proposed universal health coverage with an employer-employee joint responsibility to pay for insurance and he couldn’t do it. President Carter also tried without success…

Nothing is what we have done for years. And just this week a new report showed that the percentage of Americans without insurance has gone from 12 percent to 15 percent of our population in the last 12 years. Now, that’s over 12 million Americans who don’t have health insurance. In the last three years alone more than 3 million Americans have been added to the rolls of the uninsured. Even those with insurance today can’t count on having it tomorrow unless we fix our system and fix it now.

Actually, not all Americans face this kind of risk; members of Congress, along with the president and all federal government employees, we have a great deal right now. We work for you, the taxpayers of America. And you reward us with health coverage that can’t be taken away even if we get sick. Not only that, we have the requirement that employers contribute most of the cost of our health plan — that’s you, you’re our employers — and we contribute some.

Now I believe every working American deserves these same benefits and that same guarantee. And I think you ought to tell Congress that you believe the same thing.

In the weeks ahead special interests will again be spending millions of dollars — tens of millions — to block reform. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that the concerns of hard-working Americans don’t get drowned out. Harry Truman said it best about 50 years ago when he said, “There’s no other way to assure that the average American family has a decent chance for adequate medical care. There’s no other way to assure a strong and healthy nation.” I believe 50 years is long enough to wait to make good on that promise.

Americans had to wait another 15 years for that promise to be fulfilled, even in part, by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — and six years more for the Supreme Court majority to protect health care reform from Republicans who would still deprive millions of health coverage.

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  • janis mcdonald

    It’s the high cost of treatment!!! It’s the unnecessary procedures and the consideration of results as a secondary issue!!!! It’s the high cost and proliferation of prescription drugs, necessary or not (not only do we pay doctors to addict us to drugs, we then pay treatment centers to handle the addiction). I am losing my job in a couple months and received some information on COBRA — the stop-gap insurance for the recently unemployed. COBRA costs $1100-$1400 A MONTH!!!!!! Are they kidding???? This in a country where the average family of four is still earning less than $40,000 a year. THE NUMBERS DON’T MATCH.

    • Linda brooks

      You should look into a subsidized policy, or even one on the open market. My son was on cobra but foun a blue cross policy for 200 a month less!

      • FireBaron

        She is probably from one of those Red States and refuses to involve herself with anything to do with the ACA

        • janis mcdonald

          You don’t know me — where do you come up with this stuff? I’m 68 years old and am switching over to medicare at a reasonable cost. I don’t worry about me — I worry about my son, my nephews, my grandbaby. As Linda brooks said in her comment, people can perhaps be eligible to pay a few hundred less than $1100-$1400 a month. IN A COUNTRY WHERE THE AVERAGE FAMILY OF FOUR IS STILL BRINGING IN LESS THAN $40,000 A YEAR.

    • FireBaron

      It’s also the refusal of states to cap Medical Malpractice punitive damages. I understand actual damages, and even “Pain and Suffering” but the punitive damage awards are ridiculous!

      • janis mcdonald

        That’s not how the lobbyist for the legal community see it – ergo,that’s not how Washington sees it!

    • jmprint

      When you go on unemployment, you WILL be qualified through ACA, and probably at a very minimal cost.

  • bernieo

    I am surprised that you did not explain that Republicans agreed that our system needed to be reformed and were going to propose their own plan for negotiation until Bill Kristol sent out his infamous memo urging them to refuse to cooperate so that they could deny Clinton a win and be able to win the midterms. There was no principle involved, only naked political ambition yet the Republicans, “good guy” Dole included, did a 180 and turned against what they had been for. But instead of taking the blame the media blamed the Clintons, especially Hillary.

    “In his five-page memo, Kristol took aim at Bob Dole and other congressional Republicans who were then working with Democrats to find a compromise around shared goals of universal coverage and cost containment. Kristol called for the GOP to “adopt an aggressive and uncompromising counterstrategy designed to delegitimize the proposal,” arguing that a bipartisan deal on health care would be a political victory for Democrats and a defeat for the GOP. “Unqualified political defeat of the Clinton health care proposal,” Kristol wrote, “… would be a monumental setback for the president, and an incontestable piece of evidence that Democratic welfare-state liberalism remains firmly in retreat.”

  • FT66

    I don’t understand why republicans are not rejoicing the ruling. Their constituents have been rescued. When I hear GOP contenders saying they will continue with their dirty game of repealing ACA (now baptised – SCOTUSCARE), reminds me of kids building houses on sand at beaches with beliefs they will stand without any pillar.