Health Reform Barely Mentioned in State of the Union

In last night’s State of the Union speech, President Obama pointed out the successes over the past six years, said we’re not done yet, and laid out a bold agenda for the next two years. When speaking about health reform, he never mentioned the “Affordable Care Act.” Instead, he uttered the word “affordable” only once, talked about the declining number of uninsured Americans and low rate of health care inflation, and promised to veto any legislation that sought to turn back the clock, unravel laws that have already been passed, or take away people’s health insurance. Toward the end of the speech, he shifted the conversation from health insurance to health care.

In total, President Obama mentioned the word “health” only eight times in his speech. Here are those excerpts:

“And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.”

“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.”

“Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.”

“First – middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.”

“Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”

“In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and I thank this Congress for your bipartisan support of their efforts.”

“And that’s why I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts.”

“We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.”

Notably, President Obama did not take any jabs at the Supreme Court, which had six Justices in attendance, as he did about five years ago. The Court will be hearing the King v. Burwell challenge to the premium tax credits being delivered through the federal exchange in just a few weeks, and the decision, expected sometime this summer, could have major implications for the long-term success of the health reform law.

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