By Brad Tuttle
September 26, 2017

President Barack Obama said in a keynote address at a global health care conference on Monday that politics and ideology must be pushed aside in the quest for true, lasting solutions for health care reform.

Obama was reportedly paid $400,000 to give the speech to a ballroom full of some 500 health care industry executives at a conference at the InterContinental Barclay Hotel in New York City hosted by the investing firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

According to the New York Times, Obama delivered a 25-minute prepared speech that steered clear of levity or criticism of the Trump administration and the GOP’s health care bills. Instead of jokes and attacks, Obama “undertook a professorial review of what the health care law had accomplished,” the Times reported, and offered thoughts on solutions to the problems that remain.

Above all, Obama said the focus should be squarely on genuine solutions to helping the sick and improving the health of all, not politics or ideology.

“This is a big system, and it’s complicated, but what to do that would make it better is actually not that mysterious,” Obama said. “But it does require putting ideology aside.”

Later, Obama urged the audience “to keep the sick and scared at the core of what they did,” as the Times paraphrased it. “If you’re going to make money this way, you better think about it,” Obama said.

“Our big problem right now is politics,” Obama said toward the end of his speech, before making a quick reference to the clash between President Donald Trump and NFL players who are protesting during the national anthem. “Can’t even get it out of football!”

Observers hypothesized that Obama could make money after leaving the White House in many different ways. Barack and Michelle Obama reportedly signed a $60 million contract to write a book together, and over the past few months the former president has given several speeches—some with hefty payoffs, some for free.

Last week, Obama gave a speech at an event sponsored by the philanthropic Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, when he also offered extensive thoughts on health care in America.

“For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance,” Obama said. “Paying more for insurance, or being denied insurance because of a preexisting condition — that’s not a thing anymore. We got rid of that. People are alive today because we did. That’s progress.”

Obama also directly criticized GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, the landmark legislation passed under his watch, even as he admitted that the legislation “wasn’t perfect” and was “full of things that still need to be fixed.” Here’s an excerpt:

When I see those people trying to undo that hard-won progress, for the 50th or 60th time, with bills that would raise costs or reduce coverage, or roll back protections for older Americans or people with pre-existing conditions – the cancer survivor, the expecting mom, or the child with autism, or asthma, for whom coverage once again would be almost unattainable… it is aggravating.

And all of this being done without any demonstrable economic, or actuarial, or plain common sense rationale — it frustrates. And it’s certainly frustrating to have to mobilize every couple months to keep our leaders from inflicting real human suffering on our constituents. But… typically that’s how progress is won.

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