Last night President Obama delivered his 5th State of the Union Address. During the near 90 minute speech, he covered topics like the citizenship, the United States’ military presence in the Middle East, and equal pay. An increase to minimum wage was a hot topic in the speech. President Obama would like to see it increase to $10.10 per hour. That portion of the speech provided the most easily quoted moment of the night, “Give America a raise.”
In a blink-and-you-missed-it moment, the president also, unsurprisingly, talked a bit about health care and the still much-debated Affordable Care Act.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that marijuana has been legalized in two states, Colorado and Washington. People have been jumping out of the woodwork to either praise or condemn the decision.
A common argument against the legalization of marijuana is the perceived danger of the plant. Many suggest its use is more dangerous than alcohol consumption. President Obama turned heads this week we he announced he disagreed with that view.
“As has been well-documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” he told New Yorker magazine. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
The weather created almost too perfect a setting for President Obama’s climate change speech Tuesday afternoon. Visibly sweating and frequently dabbing at his forehead, the president addressed the importance of acting on climate change before the problem became too great. “The progress [will be] measured in crisis averted, planet protected,” he said.
President Obama’s main focus in protecting the planet is the limiting and ultimate elimination of carbon pollution. In his speech, President Obama cited a study that found the 12 warmest years on record have occurred in the last 15, with 2012 being the warmest year in recorded history. He also called on America to be a leader in the fight against climate change, asking individuals to do their part. “We have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’ll suffer the consequences together.”
The Affordable Care Act, first disparagingly referred to as Obamacare and now adopted as its accepted moniker, is the most sweeping and dramatic health care legislation since Medicare. It’s also one of the more divisive.
Proponents say it will bring health care costs down through wider preventative care; opponents say it is intrusive and sets us up for a new bloated federal bureaucracy.
One of the most important tasks in preventative care and health care cost-reduction is addressing the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the direct and indirect medical care costs of obesity in the U.S. in 2008 was $147 billion. While obesity rates have leveled in recent years, long-term projections are still grim, with the possibility of nearly half of all Americans being obese by 2030. One report projects the majority of states will be over the 50 percent level.
While there are many myths about Obamacare, one of the better known facts about the legislation is that it will eliminate insurance companies’ ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. But it’s not the utopian “health care for all” scenario some critics may think. Companies are able to more aggressively reward employees for achieving preset wellness goals, and conversely, saddling those who don’t make an effort to improve their health with higher premiums. (more…)
By Shae Blevins
Tonight, President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address for his second term in office. Millions tuned in to the address and commented on Twitter using the hashtag #SOTU. Still, many Americans spent Fat Tuesday with family and friends partying and reflecting on indulgences to give up for Lent while the President of the United States prepared for his most important speech of the year – so far.
While the president covered a range of topics, including the economy, the budget, gun violence, immigration, job creation and the housing market, he spent very little time discussing the large, anticipated elephant in the room.
No. Not the Easter-colored ties of Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner. We are talking about health care.
At the beginning of the State of the Union address, President Obama said that the largest, most expensive cause of the United States’ long-term debt problem was the rising cost of health care for America’s aging population. His recommendation is not to cut funding from health care-related programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, which provide health care services and discounts for the elderly and poor. The president, instead, framed national health care issues as cost problems instead of spending problems.
President Obama’s recommendations to cure the problem of health care in America are to reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and to ask the wealthiest senior citizens to shoulder more national health care-related responsibility instead of placing the entire burden on the middle and working class families. According to the president, the government and the American public, especially the wealthiest one percent, must do more to protect social responsibility programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, through the use of modest, bipartisan reform.
In fact, the president said he was prepared to enact reforms to achieve the same degree of health care savings within 10 years as proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission.
The State of the Union discussed health care only briefly, but President Obama did defend the Affordable Care Act, which he said is helping slow the growth of health care costs across the nation.
— The White House (@whitehouse) February 13, 2013
Of course, according to some political pundits, President Obama only accomplished his Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – because he pushed it through during a Democratic-run Congress.
— David Guenthner (@DavidGuenthner) February 13, 2013
By changing the way the American government pays for health care through modest, bipartisan reform, President Obama believes that the nation can reduce long-term health care costs. Unfortunately, the State of the Union address did not report on how the president hopes to enact his future health care reforms beyond the current frame of “Obamacare.”
President Obama did say, “we must have quality, affordable health care for every American,” and that’s something we should all be able to agree on, no matter which side of the aisle you cheer for.
More Twitter reactions to the State of the Union:
President Obama: “Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report.” #SOTU
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 13, 2013
— PublicAgenda (@PublicAgenda) February 13, 2013
— Amy Lynn Smith (@alswrite) February 13, 2013
— Caleb Campbell (@calebcampbell12) February 13, 2013
— PCRM(@PCRM) February 13, 2013
— Altarum Institute (@Altarum) February 13, 2013
— Alzheimer’s Assoc. (@alzassociation) February 13, 2013