Apr 6, 2022

Biden And Obama Deliver Remarks On The Affordable Care Act 4/05/22 Transcript

Biden And Obama Deliver Remarks On The Affordable Care Act 4/05/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsBiden And Obama Deliver Remarks On The Affordable Care Act 4/05/22 Transcript

President Biden, former President Obama and Vice President Harris deliver remarks on the Affordable Care Act and efforts to lower health care costs for families 4/05/22. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Speaker 1: (00:07)
President of the United States and the 44th president of the United States, the honorable Barack Obama.

Kamala Harris: (01:30)
Good afternoon. Indeed, it is a good afternoon. Good afternoon, please have a seat, everybody, please have a seat. Thank you. Feels good, doesn’t it? President Biden, President Obama, members of Congress and my fellow Americans, on March 23rd, 2010, the Affordable Care act Was signed into law. In the 12 years since, the ACA has delivered high quality affordable healthcare to more than 30 million Americans. Yes.

Kamala Harris: (02:26)
And those Americans are working parents and young children, college students and older Americans, millions of people who had never been able to afford coverage before, or who had been denied coverage altogether often because of a category of denial called preexisting conditions, conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or even asthma. The ACA is the most consequential healthcare legislation passed in generations in our country.

Kamala Harris: (03:09)
And it is something more. The ACA is a statement of purpose, a statement about the nation we must be, where all people, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much they earn can access the healthcare they need no matter the cost. When I served as attorney general of California, it was that purpose that led our office and 10 other state attorneys general to submit a brief to the United States Supreme Court in defense of the ACA.

Kamala Harris: (03:57)
And it is that purpose that brings us all together today, to continue to expand affordable healthcare and its coverage to families across our nation and to call on Congress to take action, to pass legislation that simply allows Medicare to directly negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. And if there’s any question why, I’ll explain.

Kamala Harris: (04:37)
More than 60 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare, that would give Medicare significant bargaining power to negotiate prices for all those Americans. So instead of forcing individual patients to negotiate by themselves, to require them pay whatever price the drug companies set, they would have that kind of representation to stand there with their fellow Americans and negotiate those prices so that they would just simply be fair.

Kamala Harris: (05:17)
So today we also call on Congress to make permanent the ACA subsidies that are included in the American Rescue Plan, subsidies that are currently lowering insurance premiums for millions of Americans and which are set to expire in December. And more must be done. Currently, there are 12 states in our nation that refuse to expand Medicaid for no reason other than petty partisan obstruction. As a result, 4 million people in our country are locked out of coverage. And that comes at a cost. For example, women who do not have healthcare coverage and are therefore less likely to have access during pregnancy or before or after to pelvic exams or vaccinations, prenatal checkups, postpartum depression screenings, and all the other essential care they need to be safe and healthy before, during and after birth.

Kamala Harris: (06:33)
We know that expanding Medicaid coverage significantly reduces the number of mothers who die as a result of pregnancy. So the sooner coverage is expanded in those 12 states, the more lives we will save. Protecting the health and wellbeing of the people of our nation should not be a partisan issue.

Kamala Harris: (07:01)
Every person in our nation should be able to access and afford the healthcare they need to thrive, not as a privilege, but as a right. And that is why our administration will continue to use every tool at our disposal to strengthen the ACA. And with that, it is now my great pleasure to introduce the man whose vision and leadership led us to this day, whose unwavering commitment to the people of our nation laid the foundation for this groundbreaking legislation, a leader who showed us the way forward on this important issue. Please welcome President Barack Obama,

Barack Obama: (07:56)
Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you everybody, have a seat, have a seat. Thank you Vice President Biden, vice president… That was a joke. That was all set up. My president, Joe Biden, Vice President Harris, our dear friend, Madam Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, all the members of Congress who are in attendance today, the members of cabinet, it is good to be back in the White House.

Barack Obama: (09:07)
It’s been a while. I confess I heard some changes have been made by the current president since I was last here. Apparently secret service agents have to wear aviator glasses now, the Navy mess has been replaced by a Baskin-Robbins and there’s a cat running around, which I guarantee Bo and Sunny would’ve been very unhappy about. But coming back, even if I have to wear a tie, which I very rarely do these days, gives me a chance to visit with some of the incredible people who serve of this White House and who serve this country every single day a lot of times out of the limelight. They may…

Barack Obama: (10:03)
A lot of times out of the limelight. They make this government function and they help people in ways big and small. And from the outside, sometimes people don’t understand just how grueling this is and how many sacrifices people make. Because those of us who are in front of the cameras oftentimes get the credit. But it’s a lot of people who are devoted day in, day out to making this country better that matter and a lot of them are represented here.

Barack Obama: (10:36)
And that’s not just in the west wing by the way, it’s also in the residence. There were a lot of people who looked after our families that I will always be grateful to. So it’s wonderful to be back to say thank you to all of you. But most of all, coming back here gives me a chance to say thank you, and spend some time with an extraordinary friend and partner who was by my side for eight years.

Barack Obama: (11:03)
Joe Biden and I did a lot together. We helped save the global economy. Made record investments in clean energy. We put guardrails on our financial system. We helped turn the auto industry around. Repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But nothing made me prouder than providing better healthcare and more protections to millions of people across this country. So when president Biden said he was not going to just celebrate the ACA, but also announce actions that would make it even better, I had to show up.

Barack Obama: (12:10)
I think it’s been well documented just how difficult it was to pass the ACA. There’s… You can get a lot of testimony here in case folks haven’t heard. As a country we have been talking about reforming healthcare for 100 years. Unlike almost every other advanced economy on earth, we didn’t have a system that guaranteed access to healthcare for all of its citizens. Millions of people didn’t have health insurance. Often because their employers didn’t provide it, or because it was too expensive. But despite the fact that our healthcare system didn’t work well, it was hard to change. Healthcare represents about one fifth of our economy. That’s trillions of dollars that are involved. So there were a lot of different economic interests that were vying to maintain the status quo. And because the majority of Americans did have healthcare, some people naturally worried that they’d lose what they had. The media was skeptical of past failures. There was a lot of misinformation, to say the least, flying around. And It’s fair to say that most Republicans showed little interest in working with us to get at anything done. That’s fair to say.

Barack Obama: (13:47)
But despite great odds, Joe and I were determined. Because we’d met too many people on the campaign trail who’d shared their stories. And our own families had been touched by illness. And as I said to our dear friend Harry Reed, who is missed. Wished he was here today. Because he took great pride in what we did. I intended to get healthcare passed, even if it cost me re-election, which for a while looked like it might. But for all of us. For Joe, for Harry, for Nancy Pelosi, for others, the ACA was an example of why you run for office in the first place. Why all of you sign up for doing jobs that pay you less than you could make someplace else. Why you’re away from home sometimes and you miss some soccer practices or some dance recitals. Because we don’t… We’re not supposed to do this just to occupy a seat, or to hang on to power. We’re supposed to do this because it’s making a difference in the lives of the people who sent us here.

Barack Obama: (15:15)
And because of so many people, including a lot of people who are here today, made enormous sacrifices. Because Members of Congress took courageous votes, including some who knew that their vote would likely cost them their seat. Because the incredible leadership of Nancy and Harry, we got the ACA across the finish line, together. And the night we passed the ACA, I’ve said it before, it was a high point of my time here because it reminded me, and it reminded us of what is possible.

Barack Obama: (16:09)
But of course, our work was not finished. Republicans tried to repeal what we had done, again and again, and again. They filed law lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme court three times. I see Don Barilla here who had to defend a couple of them. They tried explicitly to make it harder for people to sign up for coverage. And let’s face it, it didn’t help that when we first rolled out the ACA the website didn’t work. That was not one of my happiest moments. So given all the noise and the controversy and the skepticism, it took a while for the American people to understand what we had done. But lo and behold, a little later than I’d expected, a lot of folks including many who had initially opposed healthcare reform came around. And today the ACA hasn’t just survived, it’s pretty darn popular. And the reason is because it’s done what it was supposed to do. It’s made a difference. First 20 million and now 30 million people have gotten covered thanks to the ACA.

Barack Obama: (17:43)
It’s prevented insurance companies from denying people coverage based on a pre-existing condition. It’s lowered prescription drug costs for 12 million seniors. It’s allowed young people to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26. It’s eliminated lifetime limits on benefits, that often put people in a jam. So we are incredibly proud of that work.

Barack Obama: (18:06)
But the reason we’re here today is because President Biden, Vice President Harris, everybody who’s worked on this thing understood from the start that the ACA wasn’t perfect. To get the bill passed we had to make compromises. We didn’t get everything we wanted. That wasn’t a reason not to do it. If you can get millions of people health coverage and better protection it is, to quote a famous American, “A pretty big deal.”

Barack Obama: (18:56)
But there were gaps to be filled. Even today some patients still pay too much for their prescriptions. Some poor Americans are still falling through the cracks. In some cases healthcare subsidies aren’t where we want them to be, which means that some working families are still having trouble paying for their coverage.

Barack Obama: (19:20)
He used to think, that’s not unusual when we make major progress in this country. The original Social Security Act left out entire categories of people like domestic workers and farm workers. That had to be changed. In the beginning Medicare didn’t provide all the benefits that it does today. That had to be changed. Throughout history, what you see is that it’s important to get something started. To plant a flag. To lay a foundation for further progress. The analogy I’ve used about the ACA before is that, in the same way that was true for early forms of Social Security and Medicare, it was a starter home.

Barack Obama: (20:01)
… Security and Medicare. It was a starter home. It secured the principle of universal healthcare. Provided help immediately to families. But it required us to continually build on it and make it better. And President Biden understands that. And that’s what he’s done since the day he took office.

Barack Obama: (20:25)
As part of the American Rescue Plan, he lowered the cost of healthcare even further for millions of people. He made signing up easier. Made outreach to those who didn’t know they could get covered. Made sure that they knew, made that a priority. And as a result of these actions, he helped a record 14.5 million Americans get covered during the most recent enrollment period. That ladies and gentlemen is what happens when you have an administration that’s committed to making a program work.

Barack Obama: (21:12)
And today, the Biden/Harris administration is going even further by moving to fix a glitch in the regulations that will lower premiums for nearly one million people who need it. And allow 200,000 more uninsured Americans get access to coverage. I’m a private citizen now, but I still take it more than a passing interest in the course of our democracy. But I’m outside the arena. And I know how discouraged people can get with Washington, Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Everybody feels frustrated sometimes about what takes place in this town. Progress feels way too slow sometimes. Victories are often incomplete. And in a country as big and as diverse as ours, consensus never comes easily.

Barack Obama: (22:13)
But what the Affordable Care Act shows is if you are driven by the core idea that together we can improve the lives of this generation and the next, and if you’re persistent, if you stay with it, and you’re willing to work through the obstacles and the criticism and continually improve where you fall short, you can make America better. You can have an impact on millions of lives. You can help make sure folks don’t have to lose their homes when they get sick. That they don’t have to worry whether a loved one is going to get the treatment they need.

Barack Obama: (22:58)
President Joe Biden understands that. He has dedicated his life to the proposition that there’s something worthy about public service. And that the reason to run for office is for days like today. So I could not be more honored to be here with him as he writes the next chapter in our story of progress. I’m grateful for all the people who’ve been involved in continuing to make the ACA everything it can be. And it is now my great privilege to introduce the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden.

Kamala Harris: (23:31)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Please, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Please. Please. Thank you.

Kamala Harris: (24:35)
Thank you very much, please. My name is Joe Biden. I’m Barack Obama’s Vice President and I’m Jill Biden’s husband. By the way, the only reason Jill’s not here today, she’s working. She’s teaching.

Barack Obama: (24:47)
I hear you.

Kamala Harris: (24:48)
And so I just want you to know that’s why she’s not here. Good afternoon, everyone.

Audience: (24:51)
Good afternoon.

Kamala Harris: (24:52)
Mr. President, welcome back to the White House, man. Feels like the good old days. Being here with you brings back so many good memories. We just had lunch together and we weren’t sure who was supposed to sit where. Look, it’s fitting that the first time you return to the White House is to celebrate a law. A law that’s transforming millions of lives because of you. And I say, because of you, we had a lot of help. The staff and I helped a little bit, but it was because of you. A law that shows hope leads to change. And you did that. You did it. Let’s be honest. The Affordable Care Act has been called a lot of things, but Obamacare is the most fitting. Obamacare. It’s true.

Kamala Harris: (25:40)
I can tell you all how much Barack Obama cared about getting this done. Throughout the countless hours and negotiations and the relentless political attacks, he never, ever, ever gave up. And I guarantee you that. If I had time I could tell you all the times when he’d say, “Should we compromise? Should we just?” And I’d say, “Well, we ought to think about that.” “No. If I do that then so and so won’t get covered. This group of people won’t get covered.”

Kamala Harris: (26:17)
And whether it was after meeting during our weekly lunch, and we met every single day, he’d remind me why we’re doing this in the first place. We’re doing this in the first place for people who needed it and deserved to be treated with dignity. Dignity. The idea when you can’t afford health insurance for your children, for your spouse, male or female, it doesn’t matter. Not only are they in trouble, but you’re deprived of your dignity.

Kamala Harris: (26:49)
Barack, you talked about the idea that it was important that we make sure that you couldn’t outrun your insurance. I can remember there with Bo thinking to myself, “What would I do if they walked in and said, “You’ve outrun your time, man.” And there were still 35 days to live. The things that change people’s lives.

Kamala Harris: (27:21)
We both understood the Affordable Care Act wasn’t about a single President or the presidency. It was about the countless, countless Americans lying in bed at night staring at this ceiling, wondering, “My God, my God, what if I get really sick? What am I going to do? What is my family going to do? Will I lose the house?” Discussions we had in my house with my dad when he lost his health insurance. Who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to take care of my family?

Kamala Harris: (27:54)
In America, healthcare as we all three said, well have now said, healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. And with the help of members of Congress, especially Nancy and the advocates for families who are here today, 12 years ago last month, 12 years ago, we made a good effort toward that proposition. And it should be a right. And Barack, when you signed the Affordable Care Act into law, it became the most consequential piece of health insurance, most consequential piece of legislation in my view, since creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. It made a difference in people’s lives every day.

Kamala Harris: (28:48)
You just talked about where we were before the Affordable Care Act and what happened in the past 12 years to make a life a lot better for people. Well, I’d like to talk about where we go from here. Because we knew back then as the President said, we knew that we had to keep strengthening this legislation.

Kamala Harris: (29:08)
Look, that’s why I ran for President. And I promised to protect and build upon the Affordable Care Act. As soon as entered office, that’s exactly what Kamala and I did and what our administration and the Democrats in Congress here today did. We passed the landmark American Rescue Plan, which not only helped us in COVID-19 get it under control and our economy back on track, it got millions more people insured under the Affordable Care Act.

Kamala Harris: (29:39)
It made it easier for people to sign up for coverage in the middle of a pandemic. It opened a special enrollment people and gave millions and millions of Americans more time to enroll. It quadrupled the number of navigators out there in the communities helping people to sign up for coverage because it’s confusing to people. It’s confusing. President’s heard me say when we work together.

Kamala Harris: (30:03)
Presidents heard me say, “We work together,” they’d say, “Well, Biden and Obama are doing great informed policy.” I say, “You want to do something difficult? Try healthcare.” Not a joke, not a joke.

Kamala Harris: (30:16)
So we continue to expand Medicaid. Missouri and Oklahoma became 37 and 38 states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And it’s been mentioned over 31 million people now have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Four out of five Americans can find quality coverage for under $10 a month. The average family is saving $2,400 a year on their premiums. That’s $200 every single month available for other needs in their lives, from gas to groceries, to other basic necessities. The bottom line is this. The Affordable Care Act is stronger now than it has ever been.

Kamala Harris: (31:09)
And I’m not even talking about what your former chief of staff is doing to make sure healthcare is available to all our veterans in the way he did. And today, we’re strengthening it even further. In a moment, I’m going to sign an executive order billing on one of those that I signed last year. It directs federal agencies to continuing everything in their power, everything in their power to expand quality and affordable healthcare coverage, make it easier for people to enroll in and keep their coverage. Helping people better understand their coverage options, and to be able to pick the best option for that family. Taking steps to strengthen benefits, lower cost and expand eligibility. Protecting Americans from low-quality coverage that can lead to a mountain of medical debt.

Kamala Harris: (32:10)
And folks, and separately, it’s time to fix what we refer to as the family glitch. Now the family glitch, everybody in this room probably knows what it is, but it’s a common issue facing five million Americans who can’t get financial help to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act. And here’s the problem. Under the current rules, a working mom is told as long as she can afford employer-based coverage for herself, she can’t qualify for premium subsidies to afford coverage for her family. Cover her, but not her family. We’re working to change that. Once today’s proposed rule is finalized, starting next year, working families in America will get the help they need to afford full family coverage, everyone in the family.

Kamala Harris: (33:29)
As a result, families will be saving hundreds of dollars a month. With this change, it’s estimated that 200,000 presently uninsured Americans are going to gain coverage. Nearly one million Americans will see their coverage become more affordable. This is considered one of the biggest things my administration can do, lower cost and expand coverage. And we’re taking steps today to get that done. So look, folks, but we need to keep up the fight. Our Republican colleagues, as they say in [inaudible 00:34:05], they haven’t changed a whole hell of a lot. Good folks, but haven’t changed a lot. They continue to attack the Affordable Care Act. They’re unrelenting, unrelenting. They haven’t stopped, “Mr. President, since you signed the law,” they haven’t stopped for one second. Multiple court challenges, we mentioned, sabotaged from the previous administration. Over 70 attempts to repeal the law by Republicans in Congress.

Kamala Harris: (34:33)
In fact, just last month, the distinguished Senator from Wisconsin said, “If Republicans get back in power, they should try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” Again, again, try. Today, 12 years later, Republicans have got to stop their attacks on this lifesaving law. So pay very close attention, folks. If Republicans have their way, it means 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions can once again be denied healthcare coverage by their insurance companies. That’s what the law was before Obamacare. In addition, tens of millions of Americans could lose their coverage, including young people will no longer be able to stay on their parents’ insurance policy to age 26. Premiums are going to go through the roof.

Kamala Harris: (35:26)
Well, I got a better idea. Instead of destroying the Affordable Care Act, let’s keep building on it. Let’s extend it. Extend. And because of all the folks in this room, members of Congress, the American Rescue Plan, subsidies that are lower in premiums and extending coverage. And I got a little practice when you gave me that other actor when we were president, you were president, I was with you.

Kamala Harris: (36:07)
Look, close the Medicaid coverage gap that locks nearly four million Americans out of coverage just because their states refuse to expand Medicaid. Lower prescription drug costs, which was mentioned already by allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for drugs that are on the market, we can do this. We should do this. We have to do this.

Kamala Harris: (36:31)
But let me close with this. 12 years ago at a bill signing of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama said, “We’re a nation that does what is hard, what is necessary, and what is right.” That’s exactly what he did, exactly what he did. And folks, that’s what we have to do. That’s what we do as Americans. That’s what all of you did here, making the Affordable Care Act possible. I really mean it. We just got to keep it going and keep building on it. We need to keep the faith and we need to remember, we’re the United States of America, and there is simply literally nothing beyond our capacity when we’re uniting to do it together. God bless you all. May God protect our troops. And now I’m going to sign an executive order. And Barack, let me remind you, that’s a hot mic.

Kamala Harris: (38:14)
[crosstalk 00:38:14].

Kamala Harris: (38:14)
Can you see everybody? [crosstalk 00:38:15].

Kamala Harris: (38:16)
All right. I have to admit one thing I haven’t gotten down. Barack Obama could sign his name using nine different pens. I’m going to use one.

Kamala Harris: (38:21)
All right.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.