The Hill

Paid Sick Leave, Precision Medicine Initiative, And Obamacare: What Pres. Obama Said About Health Care In His 2015 State Of The Union Address

obama state of the union
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 20, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing

“I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I won both of them,” President Barack Obama said confidently amid sarcastic applause, as his hour-long State of the Union address drew near its conclusion on Tuesday.

Obama’s annual address was full of reflections on his successes as a president, as well as goals for the coming year. He noted lower gas prices, a steady drop in the unemployment rate, and a rise in graduation rates across the United States as positive outcomes for the Obama administration. Also included in his address were calls for childcare reform, making college “as free and universal in America as high school is today,” and a renewed resolve to shut down the controversy-ridden prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Since his election in 2008, Obama has remained passionate about health care reform. The Affordable Care Act, now more commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” was enacted in 2010, but 2014 was the first year the key provisions of the legislation were implemented. Enrollment in Obamacare marketplaces got off to a rocky start, leaving Republicans and Democrats alike looking to the White House for solutions.

But based on his address to the nation on Tuesday, Obama is confident that his health care legislation has met a significant need, even with the initial obstacles it faced. That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t more work to be done.

Here’s what the President said about health care in his 2015 State of the Union address:

1. Millions of uninsured Americans gained health care coverage in Obamacare’s first year of open enrollment: “In the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.”

2. Every worker in the United States should be afforded the right to paid sick leave and paid maternity leave: "Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. … Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.”

3. The White House is launching the Precision Medicine Initiative to invest resources into medical research and technology: "I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine  —  one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. … 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.”

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