Health Care Costs Get Early and Brief Attention in State of the Union Address

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.

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.

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:








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