TO THE JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
…And for that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.
This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.
Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. We can’t afford to do it. It’s time. (Applause.)
Already, we’ve done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last 30 days than we’ve done in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full-time. (Applause.) Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. (Applause.) And — and it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that’s one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.
This budget builds on these reforms. It includes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform — a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. (Applause.) It’s a commitment — it’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.
Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that’s why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.
I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. Once again, it will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough. So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year. (Applause)…