Curtailing health care costs while maintaining Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were objectives stated by President Barak H. Obama in his address following his inauguration for a second term as president of the United States of America. His speech, which was delivered after taking the oath of office on January 21, 2012, established the themes and concerns of the second term of his presidency.
The overarching theme of President Obama’s speech was that the government has to change to meet the changing needs of the people. “But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges,” the president said. He provided an example of how American soldiers could not have met and defeated the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. The president said, “We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.” He continued by saying, “So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools and empower citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.”
Medicare and Medicaid
President Obama cautioned, however, that change cannot be made for change’s sake and that commitments must be maintained. “But we reject the belief that American must choose between caring for the generations that built this country and investing in generations that will build its future,” the president said. “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” said the president. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take risks that make this country great,” continued the president.
While stating that entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have added to our society and are commitments that must be maintained, he also acknowledged that costs are an issue. “We must make hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,” the president said.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148 and 111-152), which made significant changes in how health care is financed in this country, was one of the major pieces of legislation the president sought during his first year in office. Implementing the ACA will be a major activity of the president’s administration in his second term. Many of the provisions of the ACA are just going into effect in 2013 and 2014, during the president’s second term. Health care exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, and the full implementation of the insurance mandate are all major provisions of the ACA that are just now being enacted.