Obama’s Speech: ‘Change Has Always Been Hard’
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — At the University of Maryland Thursday, President Obama tried to sell the Democrats’ plans for overhauling the health care industry. The impetus is clear. During a long hot autumn, when Congress still held the reins of the debate, polls showed public support tanking for reform, including an erosion in approval for a government-backed plan to compete with private insurers. But last week’s speech before a rare joint session of Congress turned those numbers around.
Today, to a young and adoring crowd, Obama returned to the podium to reiterate the message he delivered to Congress — word for word in many instances. Some highlights:
Taking on the insurance industry: Citing a case of a breast cancer patient losing coverage over a preexisting condition of acne, the president attacked private insurance companies for denying claims and dropping coverage in the name of profits at the expense of patients. “Those stories are heartbreaking,” he said. “They are wrong. Nobody in America should be treated that way.”
Taking on conservative groups: Obama also took on the conservative groups stirring public sentiment against health reform this year, imploring the audience to ignore those intent on killing the idea rather than improving it. “Pay attention to the health care experts — the doctors and nurses who knows the system best,” he asked.
Taking on Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.): Yesterday the Senate Finance Committee chairman introduced a long-awaited proposal to overhaul the nation’s fractured health care system. Liberals, however, are blasting the plan for excluding the public option in favor of health cooperatives. Obama, a long-time supporter of the public option, didn’t back down from that stand Wednesday, endorsing the concept once more with that argument that it would “provide more choice and competition and put more pressure on private insurers to make their policies more affordable.”
Private colleges haven’t put public schools out of business, he said. “You should have a choice the same way in your health care.”
Taking on the affordability question: Reiterating earlier vows, Obama said he won’t sign a bill that adds “one more dime” to the deficit.
Knowing his audience: The president endorsed the idea of allowing kids to continue being eligible under their parents’ plans until the age of 26. (He’s at UMD, remember.)
Finally, returning to the theme of hope that ignited such enthusiasm during his campaign, Obama encouraged students to be energized, not disheartened, by the hurdles facing the Democrats’ plans for health care reform. “Change has always been hard,” he said. “[But] you will change the world with your voice … I need your voice.
“Let’s go change the world.”