The George Mason University enthusiastically applauds US President Barack Obama's speech on the nearing Health Care reform vote.
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, George Mason! (Applause.) How's everybody doing today? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Obama! Obama! Obama! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. It's good to be back with some real Patriots. (Applause.) I want to thank Dr. Alan Merten, the President of George Mason University, and his family. (Applause.) Dr. Shirley Travis, who's here - thank you. And Coach Larranaga, we were just talking a little bit about - (applause) - looking forward to picking George Mason in my bracket next year. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you! (Applause.) I don't know if some of you remember, but I visited this university about three years ago for the first time. (Applause.) This was at just the dawn of my presidential campaign. It was about three weeks old, I think. We didn't have a lot of money. We didn't have a lot of staff. Nobody could pronounce my name. (Laughter.) Our poll numbers were quite low. And a lot of people - a lot of people in Washington, they didn't think it was even worth us trying.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes we can! (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: They had counted us out before we had even started, because the Washington conventional wisdom was that change was too hard. But what we had even then was a group of students here at George Mason - (applause) - who believed that if we worked hard enough and if we fought long enough, if we organized enough supporters, then we could finally bring change to that city across the river. (Applause.) We believed that despite all the resistance, we could make Washington work. Not for the lobbyists, not for the special interests, not for the politicians, but for the American people. (Applause.)
And now three years later, I stand before you, one year after the worst recession since the Great Depression, having to make a bunch of tough decisions, having had a tumultuous debate, having had a lot of folks who were skeptical that we could get anything done. And right now, we are at the point where we are going to do something historic this weekend. That's what this health care vote is all about. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!
THE PRESIDENT: A few miles from here, Congress is in the final stages of a fateful debate about the future of health insurance in America. (Applause.) It's a debate that's raged not just for the past year but for the past century. One thing when you're in the White House, you've got a lot of history books around you. (Laughter.) And so I've been reading up on the history here. Teddy Roosevelt, Republican, was the first to advocate that everybody get health care in this country. (Applause.) Every decade since, we've had Presidents, Republicans and Democrats, from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon to JFK to Lyndon Johnson to - every single President has said we need to fix this system. It's a debate that's not only about the cost of health care, not just about what we're doing about folks who aren't getting a fair shake from their insurance companies. It's a debate about the character of our country - (applause) - about whether we can still meet the challenges of our time; whether we still have the guts and the courage to give every citizen, not just some, the chance to reach their dreams. (Applause.)
At the heart of this debate is the question of whether we're going to accept a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people - (applause) - because if this vote fails, the insurance industry will continue to run amok. They will continue to deny people coverage. They will continue to deny people care. They will continue to jack up premiums 40 or 50 or 60 percent as they have in the last few weeks without any accountability whatsoever. They know this. And that's why their lobbyists are stalking the halls of Congress as we speak, and pouring millions of dollars into negative ads. And that's why they are doing everything they can to kill this bill.
So the only question left is this: Are we going to let the special interests win once again?
THE PRESIDENT: Or are we going to make this vote a victory for the American people? (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can!
THE PRESIDENT: George Mason, the time for reform is right now. (Applause.) Not a year from now, not five years from now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now - it's now. (Applause.) We have had - we have had a year of hard debate. Every proposal has been put on the table. Every argument has been made. We have incorporated the best ideas from Democrats and from Republicans into a final proposal that builds on the system of private insurance that we currently have. The insurance industry and its supporters in Congress have tried to portray this as radical change. (Applause.)
Now, I just - I just want to be clear, everybody. Listen up, because we have heard every crazy thing about this bill. You remember. First we heard this was a government takeover of health care. Then we heard that this was going to kill granny. Then we heard, well, illegal immigrants are going to be getting the main benefits of this bill. There has been - they have thrown every argument at this legislative effort. But when it - it turns out, at the end of the day, what we're talking about is common-sense reform. That's all we're talking about. (Applause.)
If you like your doctor, you're going to be able to keep your doctor. If you like your plan, keep your plan. I don't believe we should give government or the insurance companies more control over health care in America. I think it's time to give you, the American people, more control over your health. (Applause.)
And since you've been hearing a whole bunch of nonsense, let's just be clear on what exactly the proposal that they're going to vote on in a couple of days will do. It's going to - it's going to change health care in three ways. Number one, we are going to end the worst practices of insurance companies. (Applause.) This is - this is a patient's bill of rights on steroids. (Laughter.) Starting this year, thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions will be able to purchase health insurance, some for the very first time. (Applause.) Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Applause.) Starting this year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. (Applause.) And they've been spending a lot of time weeding out people who are sick so they don't have to pay benefits that people have already paid for. Those practices will end.
If this reform becomes law, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers. (Applause.) If you buy a new plan, there won't be lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care you receive from your insurance companies. (Applause.) And by the way, to all the young people here today, starting this year if you don't have insurance, all new plans will allow you to stay on your parents' plan until you are 26 years old. (Applause.)
So you'll have some security when you graduate. If that first job doesn't offer coverage, you're going to know that you've got coverage. Because as you start your lives and your careers, the last thing you should be worried about is whether you're going to go broke or make your parents broke just because you get sick. (Applause.) All right?
So that's the first thing this legislation does - the toughest insurance reforms in history. And by the way, when you talk to Republicans and you say, well, are you against this? A lot of them will say, no, no, that part's okay. (Laughter.) All right, so let's go to the second part.
The second thing that would change about the current system is that for the first time, small business owners and people who are being priced out of the insurance market will have the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress give to themselves. (Applause.)
So what this means is, is that small business owners and middle-class families, they're going to be able to be part of what's called a big pool of customers that can negotiate with the insurance companies. And that means they can purchase more affordable coverage in a competitive marketplace. (Applause.) So they're not out there on their own just shopping. They're part of millions of people who are shopping together. And if you still can't afford the insurance in this new marketplace, even though it's going to be cheaper than what you can get on your own, then we're going to offer you tax credits to help you afford it - tax credits that add up to the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in American history. (Applause.)
Now, these tax credits cost money. Helping folks who can't afford it right now, that does cost some money. It costs about $100 billion per year. But most of the cost -
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That's all right. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, here's the reason it's all right. (Laughter.) Here's the reason it's all right. It wouldn't be all right if we weren't paying for it - and by the way, that's what a previous Congress did with the prescription drug plan. All they did was they gave the benefits and they didn't pay for it.
That's not what we're doing. What we're doing is we're taking money that America is already spending in the health care system, but is being spent poorly, that's going to waste and fraud and unwarranted subsidies for the insurance companies, and we're taking that money and making sure those dollars go towards making insurance more affordable. (Applause.)
So we're going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies. (Applause.) We're going to set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain millions of new customers. (Applause.) So here's the point: This proposal is paid for. Unlike some of these previous schemes in Washington, we're not taking out the credit card in your name, young people, and charging it to you. We're making sure this thing is paid for. (Applause.) All right, so that's the second thing.
Now, the third thing that this legislation does is it brings down the cost of health care for families and businesses and the federal government. (Applause.) Americans who are buying comparable coverage in the individual market would end up seeing their premiums go down 14 to 20 percent. (Applause.) Americans who get their insurance through the workplace, cost savings could be as much as $3,000 less per employer than if we do nothing. Now, think about that. That's $3,000 your employer doesn't have to pay, which means maybe she can afford to give you a raise. (Applause.)
And by the way, if you're curious, well, how exactly are we saving these costs? Well, part of it is, again, we're not spending our health care money wisely. So, for example, you go to the hospital or you go to a doctor and you may take five tests, when it turns out if you just took one test, then you send an e-mail around with the test results, you wouldn't be paying $500 per test. So we're trying to save money across the system. (Applause.) And altogether, our cost-cutting measures would reduce most people's premiums. And here's the bonus: It brings down our deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades. (Applause.)
So you've got - you've got a whole bunch of opponents of this bill saying, well, we can't afford this; we're fiscal conservatives. These are the same guys who passed that prescription drug bill without paying for it, adding over $1 trillion to our deficit -
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