President Obama Writes on Health Care Progress in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Today, President Obama laid out the progress we’ve made on health care in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In his paper, “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” the President assessed the ways that the Affordable Care Act has improved our health care system, from expanding and improving coverage to reforming our health care delivery system.

Check out some of the highlights below.

The decision that led to health care reform:

“Beyond these initial actions, I decided to prioritize comprehensive health reform not only because of the gravity of these challenges but also because of the possibility for progress. Massachusetts had recently implemented bipartisan legislation to expand health insurance coverage to all its residents. Leaders in Congress had recognized that expanding coverage, reducing the level and growth of health care costs, and improving quality was an urgent national priority. At the same time, a broad array of health care organizations and professionals, business leaders, consumer groups, and others agreed that the time had come to press ahead with reform. Those elements contributed to my decision, along with my deeply held belief that health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for all. After a long debate with well-documented twists and turns, I signed the ACA on March 23, 2010.”

How the ACA has expanded and improved coverage:

“The ACA has succeeded in sharply increasing insurance coverage. Since the ACA became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, with most of that decline occurring after the law’s main coverage provisions took effect in 2014 (Figure 18-10). The number of uninsured individuals in the United States has declined from 49 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2015. This is by far the largest decline in the uninsured rate since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 5 decades ago.”

ACA Uninsured Rate

“Each of the law’s major coverage provisions—comprehensive reforms in the health insurance market combined with financial assistance for low- and moderate-income individuals to purchase coverage, generous federal support for states that expand their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income adults, and improvements in existing insurance coverage—has contributed to these gains. States that decided to expand their Medicaid programs saw larger reductions in their uninsured rates from 2013 to 2015, especially when those states had large uninsured populations to start with (Figure 223). However, even states that have not adopted Medicaid expansion have seen substantial reductions in their uninsured rates, indicating that the ACA’s other reforms are increasing insurance coverage.”

ACA Medicaid Coverage

How the ACA has improved the quality of care:

“The rate at which Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after discharge has also decreased sharply, from a mean of 19.1% during 2010 to a mean of 17.8% during 2015 (Figure 6; written communication; March 2016; Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated that lower hospital readmission rates resulted in 565,000 fewer total readmissions from April 2010 through May 2015.”

ACA Readmission

Despite this progress, President Obama said, too many Americans still face challenges securing affordable and quality health care. He laid out policy recommendations for ways to further improve our health care system, from enhancing competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace to addressing prescription drug costs.

The President closed by summarizing the broader lessons learned from passing and implementing the Affordable Care Act:

“While the lessons enumerated above may seem daunting, the ACA experience nevertheless makes me optimistic about this country’s capacity to make meaningful progress on even the biggest public policy challenges. Many moments serve as reminders that a broken status quo is not the nation’s destiny. I often think of a letter I received from Brent Brown of Wisconsin. He did not vote for me and he opposed “ObamaCare,” but Brent changed his mind when he became ill, needed care, and got it, thanks to the law.

“Or take Governor John Kasich’s explanation for expanding Medicaid: “For those that live in the shadows of life, those who are the least among us, I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them.” Or look at the actions of countless health care providers who have made our health system more coordinated, quality-oriented, and patient-centered.

“I will repeat what I said 4 years ago when the Supreme Court upheld the ACA: I am as confident as ever that looking back 20 years from now, the nation will be better off because of having the courage to pass this law and persevere. As this progress with health care reform in the United States demonstrates, faith in responsibility, belief in opportunity, and ability to unite around common values are what makes this nation great.”

Read the complete article here.


Learn more about President Obama’s record on health care reform.

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President Obama on the Fatal Shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Today, President Obama posted the following message on Facebook:

“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times, and our hearts go out to the families and communities who’ve suffered such a painful loss.

“Although I am constrained in commenting on the particular facts of these cases, I am encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge, and I have full confidence in their professionalism and their ability to conduct a thoughtful, thorough, and fair inquiry.

“But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

“To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.

“That’s why, two years ago, I set up a Task Force on 21st Century Policing that convened police officers, community leaders, and activists. Together, they came up with detailed recommendations on how to improve community policing. So even as officials continue to look into this week’s tragic shootings, we also need communities to address the underlying fissures that lead to these incidents, and to implement those ideas that can make a difference. That’s how we’ll keep our communities safe. And that’s how we can start restoring confidence that all people in this great nation are equal before the law.

“In the meantime, all Americans should recognize the anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling — feelings that are being expressed in peaceful protests and vigils.  Michelle and I share those feelings. Rather than fall into a predictable pattern of division and political posturing, let’s reflect on what we can do better.  Let’s come together as a nation, and keep faith with one another, in order to ensure a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.”

Read the message on the President’s Facebook page.

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Today's Victory on Net Neutrality

The message below was sent to people who signed a We the People petition on safeguarding net neutrality. To sign or create a petition on an issue that matters to you, check out petitions.whitehouse.gov.


Today, a federal court of appeals fully upheld the FCC’s strong net neutrality rules to keep the internet open, fair, and free.

This is a victory for the millions of Americans like you who made your voices heard in support of a fair and free internet — who petitioned your government, spoke out on social media, and stood up for what you believe.

As President Obama said in 2014:

“‘Net neutrality’ has been built into the fabric of the internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow internet service providers to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas.”

Today’s ruling reaffirms this. And it’s why the President has so strongly supported net neutrality since he was a Senator, and continues to work every day to protect the internet ecosystem: because it remains one of the greatest gifts our economy — and our society — has ever known.

Thanks again for raising your voices on this platform,

— The We the People Team

P.S. Check out this timeline to see the progress we’ve made on net neutrality.

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President Obama: "ISIL Is Under More Pressure Than Ever Before"

Following a meeting with his National Security Council today, President Obama delivered remarks on our fight against ISIL. In the wake of the tragic shooting in Orlando, the President made clear that the federal government is taking every measure to stop similar attacks. He then highlighted the latest in our intensifying efforts to destroy ISIL and made clear that in this fight we will not abandon the values that define us as Americans.

Here are some key takeaways from his speech:

1. ISIL is under more pressure than ever before.

“Our mission is to destroy ISIL. Since I last updated the American people on our campaign two months ago, we’ve seen that this continues to be a difficult fight — but we are making significant progress. Over the past two months, I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL: additional U.S. personnel, including Special Forces, in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there; additional advisors to work more closely with Iraqi security forces, and additional assets, including attack helicopters; and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq. Our aircraft continue to launch from the USS Harry Truman, now in the Mediterranean. Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes. Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly — so far, 13,000 airstrikes. This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders. 

“And as a result, ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. ISIL continues to lose key leaders. This includes Salman Abd Shahib, a senior military leader in Mosul; Abu Sa’ad al-Sudani, who plotted external attacks; Shakir Wahayb, ISIL’s military leader in Iraq’s Anbar province; and Maher al-Bilawi, the top ISIL commander in Fallujah.  So far, we’ve taken out more than 120 top ISIL leaders and commanders. And our message is clear: If you target America and our allies, you will not be safe. You will never be safe.”

2. ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system and their ranks are shrinking.

After today’s @NSC44 meeting hosted @USTreasury, @POTUS provided an update on US efforts against ISIL financing. https://t.co/N8pLxHFXGP

— WH National Security (@NSC44) June 14, 2016

“As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its lifeblood. As a result of our strikes against its oil infrastructure and supply lines, we believe that we’ve cut ISIL’s revenue from oil by millions of dollars per month. In destroying the storage sites where they keep their cash, we’ve deprived ISIL of many millions more.

“Thanks to the great work of Secretary Lew and many others here today — and working with nations and financial institutions around the world — ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system. Cutting off ISIL’s money may not be as dramatic as military strikes, but it is critically important. And we’re seeing the results. ISIL’s cash reserves are down. It has had to cut salaries for its fighters. It’s resorting to more extortion of those trapped in its grip. And by ISIL’s own admission, some of its own leaders have been caught stealing cash and gold. Once again, ISIL’s true nature has been revealed: These are not religious warriors, they are thugs and they are thieves.”

3. There’s more work we need to do at home to protect Americans from homegrown terrorists.

“We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war”-@POTUS https://t.co/XgQJhbnO94

— WH National Security (@NSC44) June 14, 2016

“Lastly, here at home, if we really want to help law enforcement protect Americans from homegrown extremists, the kind of tragedies that occurred at San Bernardino and that now have occurred in Orlando, there is a meaningful way to do that. We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents. It is absolutely true we cannot prevent every tragedy. But we know that, consistent with the Second Amendment, there are common-sense steps that could reduce gun violence and could reduce the lethality of somebody who intends to do other people harm. We should give ATF the resources they need to enforce the gun laws that we already have. People with possible ties to terrorism who aren’t allowed on a plane shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun. Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism, and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons. Reinstate the assault weapons ban.”

4. Extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism.

“Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction. Since before I was President, I’ve been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As President, I have repeatedly called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.

“There has not been a moment in my seven and a half years as President where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label “radical Islam.” Not once has an advisor of mine said, man, if we really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around. Not once. So if someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we’re fighting, if there’s anyone out there who thinks we’re confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we’ve taken off the battlefield.”

5. We will not defeat ISIL by abandoning the values and ideals that define us as Americans.

“Our diversity, our respect for one another…that’s part of what keeps us strong”-@POTUS https://t.co/zGIo6BrxThhttps://t.co/XegZP8C52P

— WH National Security (@NSC44) June 14, 2016

“Two weeks ago, I was at the commencement ceremony at the Air Force Academy. And it could not have been more inspiring to see these young people stepping up, dedicated to serve and protect this country.  And part of what was inspiring was the incredible diversity of these cadets.  We saw cadets, who are straight, applauding classmates who were openly gay. We saw cadets, born here in America, applauding classmates who are immigrants and love this country so much they decided they wanted to be part of our armed forces. We saw cadets and families of all religions applaud cadets who are proud, patriotic Muslim Americans serving their country in uniform, ready to lay their lives on the line to protect you and to protect me. We saw male cadets applauding for female classmates, who can now serve in combat positions.

“That’s the American military. That’s America — one team, one nation. Those are the values that ISIL is trying to destroy, and we shouldn’t help them do it.”


Read the President’s full remarks.

Learn more about our strategy to defeat ISIL and combat the terrorist threat.

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President Obama on the Tragic Shooting in Orlando

President Obama will deliver a statement at 1:30 pm ET:

Statement from Press Secretary Josh Earnest:

The President was briefed this morning by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on the tragic shooting in Orlando, Florida. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims. The President asked to receive regular updates as the FBI, and other federal officials, work with the Orlando Police to gather more information, and directed that the federal government provide any assistance necessary to pursue the investigation and support the community.

 

Statement from Vice President Joe Biden’s spokesperson:

The Vice President was briefed this morning by his national security advisor on the heinous attack that took place overnight at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Vice President Biden offered his prayers for all those killed and injured in the shooting and sends his condolences to all the families and loved ones of the victims.  He is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to receive regular updates as we know more.

 

 

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Weekly Address: Addressing Puerto Rico’s Economic Crisis

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, President Obama discussed the crippling economic crisis harming 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico. Today, the island is spending over a third of its tax revenue on debt payments – and on July 1, Puerto Rico is facing another $2 billion in debt payments that it cannot make. The President said the only way for Puerto Rico to overcome this crisis is by restructuring its debt and finding a sustainable path toward growth and opportunity for its people. But this requires help from Congress in order to give Puerto Rico the tools it needs to restructure its debt. The President commended the House of Representatives, which overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to address the crisis, and called on the Senate to quickly follow suit.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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President Obama's Tribute to Muhammad Ali: "He Will Always Be America"

Today, President Obama and the First Lady offered their family’s deepest condolences to the family of Muhammad Ali, as they were not able to attend his funeral services. Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who also knew Muhammad Ali personally, attended the funeral and read a tribute from the President and the First Lady as part of the service.

Read President Obama’s moving tribute below, then watch the President reflect on some special mementos from the boxing legend.

Statement from President Barack Obama As Prepared
For the Funeral of Muhammad Ali
Louisville, Kentucky
June 10, 2016

It was 1980, and an epic career was in its twilight.  Everybody knew it, probably including The Champ himself. Ali went into one of his final fights an underdog; all the smart money was on the new champ, Larry Holmes. And in the end, the oddsmakers were right. 
 
A few hours later, at 4 a.m., after the loss, after all the fans had gone, a sportswriter asked a restroom attendant if he’d bet on the fight. The man – black, getting on in years – said he’d put his money on Ali.  The writer asked why. 
 
“Why?” he said. “Why?  Because he’s Muhammad Ali, that’s why.  Mister, I’m 72 years old. I owe the man for giving me my dignity.”
 
To Lonnie and the Ali family, President Clinton, and an arena full of distinguished guests – the man we celebrate today was not just a boxer, or a poet, or an agitator, or a man of peace.  He was not just a Muslim, or a black man, or a Louisville kid. He wasn’t even just “The Greatest of All Time.” 
 
He was Muhammad Ali, a whole greater than the sum of its parts. He was bigger, brighter, more original and influential than just about anyone of his era.  You couldn’t have made him up. And yes, he was pretty, too.
 
He had fans in every city and village and ghetto on the planet; he was feted by foreign heads of state; the Beatles’ British invasion took a detour to come to him. It seemed sometimes that The Champ was simply too big for America.
 
But I actually think the world flocked to him in wonder precisely because, as he once put it, Muhammad Ali was America.  Brash, defiant, pioneering, joyful, never tired, always game to test the odds.  He was our most basic freedoms – religion, speech, spirit.  He embodied our ability to invent ourselves.  His life spoke to our original sin of slavery and discrimination, and the journey he traveled helped to shock our conscience and lead us on a roundabout path toward salvation. And, like America, he was always very much a work in progress. 
 
We’d do him a disservice to gauze up his story, to sand down his rough edges, to talk only of floating butterflies and stinging bees.  Ali was a radical even in a radical’s time; a loud, proud, unabashedly black voice in a Jim Crow world. His jabs knocked some sense into us, pushing us to expand our imaginations and bring others into our understanding.  There were times he swung a bit wildly, wounding the wrong opponent, as he was the first to admit. But through all his triumphs and failures, Ali seemed to achieve the sort of enlightenment, an inner peace, that we’re all striving toward. 
 
In the ‘60s, when other young men his age were leaving the country to avoid the war or jail, he was asked why he didn’t join them.  He got angry.  He said he’d never leave – his people are here, the millions “struggling for freedom, and justice, and equality… I can do a lot to help, in jail or not.” 
 
He’d have everything stripped from him – his titles, his standing, his money, his passion, very nearly his freedom.  But Ali still chose America. I imagine he knew that only here, in this country, could he win it all back. So he chose to help perfect a union where a descendant of slaves can become the king of the world, and in the process, lend some dignity to all of us – maids, porters, students, maybe even an elderly bathroom attendant – and help inspire a young mixed kid with a funny name to have the audacity to believe he could be anything, even President of the United States. 
 
Muhammad Ali was America. He will always be America.  
 
What a man. What a spirit. What a joyous, mighty champion.
 
God bless The Greatest of All Time. God bless his family. And God bless the nation we love.

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The Story of President Obama and Army Ranger Cory Remsburg

Today is the seventh anniversary of of the first time President Obama met with Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. Read the President’s reflection on what Cory has taught him over the years — and watch the video to see what happened the last time they met.

Seven years ago today, while honoring the heroes of D-Day, I met a young Army Ranger, Cory Remsburg.

President Obama and Cory Remsburg

Eight months later, I walked into a hospital room at Bethesda to visit a grievously wounded soldier. It was Cory, and he had been nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

President Obama and Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg

Over the years, I’ve met up with Cory as he’s worked hard to recover, and I’ve shared his incredible story with you.

Now, seven years after we first met, Cory recently visited me in the Oval Office — and for the first time since the explosion, Cory is walking short distances unassisted. He was determined to walk into the Oval Office on his own.

Take a look at Cory’s visit, and you’ll see why, of all the people I’ve met as President, no one has inspired me more than Cory. He never quits. He never gives up. And he’s always pushing the limits, reminding us of our solemn obligation to all our veterans and wounded warriors who’ve risked their lives for us all.


Read more:

Behind the Lens: Photographing an American Hero

 

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Weekly Address: Building on America’s Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President discussed his return to Elkhart, Indiana, the first town he visited as President and one that was among the hardest-hit by the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Seven years later, unemployment in Elkhart has fallen from a high of nearly 20 percent to around four percent; more families are back on sturdy ground; more are covered by health insurance; and more students are graduating from high school. Elkhart is symbolic of America’s recovery, and that progress is due to the sacrifices of hardworking Americans and a series of smart decisions the President made early in his presidency, such as rescuing the auto industry, helping families refinance their homes, and investing in job training, high-tech manufacturing, clean energy, and the infrastructure that creates good new jobs. The President emphasized that we must continue to come together around common economic goals and push back against policies that protect powerful interests instead of working Americans. That’s the choice America will make this year, and the President believes the future will be brighter if this country works together to build on the progress this country has made in the months and years ahead. 

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

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Email from President Obama: Elkhart

This evening, President Obama wrote the below message to the White House email list to announce his trip to Elkhart, Indiana on Wednesday, June 1st and reflect on the economic progress we’ve made in both Elkhart and across the country since he originally visited there in the first weeks of his presidency.

If you didn’t get the email, make sure to sign up for updates — and check back right here for updates on President Obama’s trip to Elkhart.


Just three weeks into my presidency, I made a promise to the people of Elkhart, Indiana.

It was the first city I visited as President. Folks there had been hit harder by the recession than almost anywhere else in America. The unemployment rate was on its way to nearly twenty percent. Companies that had sustained that community for years were shedding jobs at an alarming speed — and hardworking families were losing their homes and health care along with those jobs.

When I spoke to the people of Elkhart in February of 2009, I promised them that if we worked together, we could pull that community and this country out of the depths of recession — that we could not only recover, but put ourselves on a better, stronger course.

Today, thanks to the hard work of people in Elkhart and in communities across the country, America has recovered from crisis and we’re on the cusp of resurgence.

That’s why I’m going back to Elkhart next Wednesday — to highlight the economic progress we’ve made and discuss the challenges that remain.

The story of Elkhart’s recovery is the story of America’s recovery. 

Today, Elkhart’s manufacturing industry is back, and the town has regained nearly all of the jobs it lost during the downturn. The unemployment rate is lower than it was before the recession, and lower than the national average. In Indiana, more people have health insurance, and fewer homeowners are underwater.

This progress is thanks to the effort and determination of Americans like you. And it’s a result of the choices we made as a nation.

We still face some tough economic challenges, there’s no doubt about it. And all of us have to make some very important decisions about where we go from here. 

That’s what I’m going to talk about when I return to Elkhart on Wednesday. I hope you’ll tune in.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

 

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