June 9, 2015

Tuesday the President spoke to the Catholic Health Association Conference in Washington, DC about the advances the Affordable Care Act has made for Americans. In connection with the speech, the White House released an interactive web page with Teddy Kennedy's last letter to President Obama, and a timeline of the 100-year effort toward some form of universal coverage.

If you want to skip to the meaty part, jump to about 8 minutes in and watch from there. Here are some teasers for you.

And despite the constant doom-and-gloom predictions, the unending Chicken Little warnings that somehow making health insurance fairer and easier to buy would lead to the end of freedom, the end of the American way of life -- lo and behold, it did not happen. None of this came to pass. In fact, in a lot of ways, the Affordable Care Act worked out better than some of us anticipated.

He actually went harder after the "repeal Obamacare" crowd than I thought he would, later in the speech.

And while we were told again and again that Obamacare would be a job-killer -- amazingly enough, some critics still peddle this notion -- it turns out in reality, America has experienced 63 straight months of private sector job growth -- a streak that started the month we passed the Affordable Care Act. (Applause.) The longest streak of private sector job growth on record -- that adds up to 12.6 million new jobs. (Applause.)

So the critics stubbornly ignore reality. In reality, there is a self-employed single mom of three who couldn’t afford health insurance until health reform passed and she qualified for Medicaid in her state. And she was finally able to get a mammogram, which detected early-stage breast cancer and may have saved her life. That's the reality, not the mythology.

He then went into a riff on reality versus myth, citing real people in real states who now have health care. And then came the knockout punch.

Let’s figure out how to make it better. It seems so cynical to want to take coverage away from millions of people; to take care away from people who need it the most; to punish millions with higher costs of care and unravel what’s now been woven into the fabric of America.

Of course he knows, as do most of us, cynicism drives Republicans.

He then shared some advice from Pennsylvanian Debra Lea Oren, who suffered from arthritis and was in so much pain she was confined to a wheelchair. Her whole letter is here. It's so representative of what so many of us have been through, but these two things stood out most to me.

“I walk with my husband Michael and hold hands. It’s like a whole new world for me.”

And her advice to him at the end.

"Please don't let the Republicans bully you. We people at the bottom of the ladder love you for the hand up...You just keep pushing. Don't let them give you any guff," she wrote.

Her letter expresses so much of what I would say, too. My son has a future. We can sleep at night.

Let's hope someone on the Supreme Court sees reason and does the right thing besides the so-called "liberal justices."

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