Jun 25, 2020
Joe Biden Speech Treanscript on Health Care, Affordable Care Act
Joe Biden gave a speech in Lancaster, Pennsylvania June 25 on health care and defending the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Read the full transcript of his speech here.
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Joe Biden: (00:08)
Today, we’re in the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory and Donald Trump will file in the Supreme Court today an attempt to strip away healthcare coverage from tens of millions of families in the United States. Strip away their peace of mind, away from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions. If he succeeds, more than 23 million Americans will lose their coverage overnight, including nearly a million Pennsylvanians. Insurers could once again discriminate or deny services or drop coverage for people living with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, and so much more. Perhaps most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, those who have complications from COVID-19 could become the new pre-existing conditions. Some survivors will experience lasting health impacts like lung scarring and heart damage and if Donald Trump prevails in court, insurers would be allowed once again to strip away coverage, jack up premiums, simply because of the battle they survived in fighting coronavirus.
Joe Biden: (01:24)
Those survivors, having struggled and won their fight of their lives, would have their peace of mind stolen at that moment they needed it most. They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies, his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take healthcare protections away from American families. I’ve called on Donald Trump many times to withdraw his lawsuit. Today I’m renewing that call. Mr. President, drop the lawsuit. Stop trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Stop taking away people’s healthcare and their peace of mind. Now more than ever, stop trying to steal their peace of mind. I cannot comprehend the cruelty that’s driving him to inflict this pain on the very people he’s supposed to serve.
Joe Biden: (02:34)
You know, one of the families the Affordable Care Act has delivered peace of mind to have been the [Ritters 00:02:40] who live not far from here in Manheim, Pennsylvania. [Jan 00:02:47] and [Madeline 00:02:47] Ritter were just four years old when their mom [Stacy 00:02:51] heard some of the most devastating words that a parent can ever hear, both of her twins had been diagnosed with leukemia. I promise you, that news is news that literally stops your heart. It wrenches your entire world off its axis and the very last thing on your mind, the very last thing that should be on your mind, is whether you can afford the treatment for your children. When Stacy’s twins got sick, there was no Affordable Care Act so after draining days and endless nights, harrowing stem cell transplants and the fickle waves of hope and fear as they undulate, after enduring more than any parent should have to endure, the Ritters still faced a future where their twins could be denied coverage for the rest of their lives because they had a pre-existing condition.
Joe Biden: (04:02)
The Affordable Care Act was created to put a stop to that inhumanity, to ensure that people like Stacy, thrust into the worst nightmare of their lives, could focus on the fight that matters, save their children. Stacy’s twins won their fight. They beat cancer, and now they’re 22 years of age. Jan is studying early education in Elizabethtown College. Madeline just graduated from Arcadia University with a degree in international studies. Because of the law, the ACA, the insurance companies could no longer deny them coverage because they’re survivors of cancer, a pre-existing condition.
Joe Biden: (04:48)
I’m proud. I’m proud of the Affordable Care Act. In addition to helping people with pre-existing conditions, this is the law that delivered vital coverage for 20 million Americans who did not have health insurance. A law that bars insurance companies from capping American benefits and from charging women more for insurance simply because they are a woman. It’s a law that reduced prescription drug costs for nearly 12 million seniors [inaudible 00:05:26] see their costs spike because the Medicare donut hole would have suddenly reopened and their costs would have gone up precipitously. It’s a law that saves lives, but now, but now, in the middle of the worst public health crisis in modern history, at least since the pandemic of 1918, Donald Trump is suing to take the Ritters and millions more Americans back to the way things were. I think it’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s callous, it’s all because in my view he can’t abide the thought of letting stand one of President Obama’s greatest achievements, the Affordable Care Act.
Joe Biden: (06:16)
You know, we’ve seen that same callousness in his handling of the coronavirus. Just over three months ago, as most Americans were first coming to grips with this unprecedented scale of danger, this pandemic, President Trump publicly claimed that and I quote, “Anybody, anybody that wants a test, anybody can get it.” It simply was not true and he knew it. Then five days ago, in his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he admitted telling people and I quote, “We have to slow the testing down. Slow it down please.” He actually said it. In his hour and 50 minute speech, “Slow the testing down please.” At first his spokespeople tried to say he was joking, but then Trump himself said he wasn’t joking. He called testing “a double-edged sword”. Testing is a double-edged sword, that’s the quote.
Joe Biden: (07:37)
Let’s be crystal clear about what he means by that. Testing unequivocally saves lives and widespread testing is the key to opening our economy again. That’s one edge of the sword. The other edge is that he thinks that finding out that more Americans are sick will make him look bad. That’s what he’s worried about. He’s worried about looking bad. Well Donald Trump needs to stop caring about how he looks and start caring about what America, what is happening to the rest of America. The number of cases is increasing in 29 states. We’re going to be dealing with this for a long time. Trump can’t wish it away. He can’t bend it to meet his political wishes. There are no miracles coming. We’re not going to have to wait for this miracle because none is coming. We’re going to have to step up as Americans, all of us, and do both the simple things and the hard things to keep our families and our neighbors safe to reopen our economy, to eventually put this pandemic behind us, and sadly, we’re going to have to do it without responsible leadership coming out of the White House.
Joe Biden: (09:08)
So it’s up to us, all of us. We’re going to have to wear masks. I have mine off because we’re socially distanced and I’m standing in front of a microphone. I wear it everywhere I go, when I step outside of my house and I know as Americans it’s not something we’re used to, but it matters. All the evidence from all over the world tells us it just might be the single most effective thing we can do. We’re going to have to socially distance like we are here today. It’s not easy, and it seems so strange to us. Not as Americans but as human beings. We’re built to talk, to laugh, to hug, to gather with other people. I know I am and I know you are, but for now we have to socially distance. It matters. We’re going to have to find a way to keep our economy running as we bring the number of cases down. The president wants us to believe there is a choice between the economy and public health.
Joe Biden: (10:15)
Amazingly he still hasn’t grasped the most basic fact of this crisis. To fix the economy, we have to get control over the virus. Say it again, to fix the economy, we have to get control over the virus. He’s like a child who can’t believe this has happened to him. All his whining and self pity. Well this pandemic didn’t happen to him. It happened to all of us, and his job isn’t to whine about it, his job is to do something about it, to lead.
Joe Biden: (10:56)
If I have the honor of being president, I promise you I will lead. I will do everything I can to take responsibility and ease this burden on you and your families. I’ll put your family first. That will begin the dramatic expansion of health coverage and bold steps to lower healthcare costs. We need a public option, now more than ever, especially when more than 20 million people are unemployed. That public option will allow every American, regardless of their employment status, the choice to get a Medicare like plan. It will force private insurers to keep premiums low, offer better coverage because for the first time, will have to compete for your business against the public insurer that doesn’t have to make a profit. We’re going to lower premiums for people buying coverage on their own, by guaranteeing that no American ever has to spend more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance, and that number would be lower for lower income people. All of the details of this plan will be laid out in the next few weeks.
Joe Biden: (12:11)
We’re also going to further reduce costs by making it less expensive for Americans to choose plans with lower deductibles and out of pocket expenses, by lowering prescription drug prices, by ending the practice of so-called surprise billings which can leave you with unexpectedly high bills after you leave the hospital. So here’s the bottom line. My plan lowers healthcare costs, gets us universal coverage quickly, when Americans desperately need it now. Families are reeling right now, enduring illness, forced into risky choices, losing their employer’s plans in droves as their employers go out of business or have to suspend business. They need lifelines now, now. That’s what the families here today deserve. That’s what the families all across this nation deserve. They don’t need a president to go into court to deny them the healthcare they now have. They need a president who would go into the White House and will fight like hell to make sure they get the healthcare they need.
Joe Biden: (13:34)
If Donald Trump refuses to end his senseless crusade against health coverage, I look forward to ending it for him and working quickly with Congress to dramatically ramp up protections to get America universal coverage and lower healthcare costs as soon as humanly possible. This is my promise to you. When I’m president, I will take care of your healthcare coverage and your family the same way I would my own. This is personal to me and to my wife Jill. When I was sworn into the United States Senate next to a hospital bed, my wife and daughter had just been killed in a car crash and lying in that bed were my two young boys, surviving boys and I couldn’t have imagine what it would have been like if we hadn’t had healthcare, healthcare we needed and needed immediately.
Joe Biden: (14:35)
40 years later, one of those little boys, my grown son Beau Biden, after having been the attorney general and coming back from Iraq for a year, had contracted a fatal cancer. The question wasn’t whether or not he could survive it, the question was how long he would have to live, how many months. I remember sitting in that hospital, Walter Reed, with my two other children Hunter and Ashley, and Jill, and his wife and his two children, holding his hands and I remember thinking, and I give you my word to this, “What in the hell would I do if the insurance company was allowed to do what they could have done before the Affordable Healthcare Act? Come in and say you’ve run out of time. You’ve run out of your coverage. Suffer the last two, three, four, five painful months dying on your own. Suffer in peace.” I can’t fathom, I cannot fathom a parent having to go through that which is exactly what happened to many families before the Affordable Care Act.
Joe Biden: (16:13)
So Amy, I understand. When I say I’ll take care of your healthcare coverage the same way I take care of my family, there is nothing I take more seriously. That’s my promise to Stacy and Victoria and Amy and to every American. That’s what the presidency is. The presidency is a duty to care. A duty to care for everyone, not just who voted for you but to care for everyone, for all of us. No trust is more sacred, no responsibility more solemn, no purpose more fundamental than for a president to do absolutely everything that he or she can do to protect American lives.
Joe Biden: (17:05)
So we want every single American to know, if you’re sick, if you’re struggling, if you’re worried about how you’re going to get through the day, I will not abandon you, I will not leave you to face these challenges alone and we’re going to get through this together. We’re going to build a healthcare system. We’re going to build on it. We’re going to build our economy, our country, back to better than it was before this godawful crisis. That I promise you. Let me end by thanking the families for being so public and willing to come here because there’s so many families like yours all across America. When they heard you today, they said, “That’s me. I get it.” There’s real solidarity. We’re going to get this done. I promise you. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you.