Although the president avoided controversial topics in his speech, he did promote health care reform in a face-to-face discussion at Wakefield High School. Asked by a student how he stays motivated to do his job, Obama replied that his staff gives him 10 letters every day from “ordinary folks.”
“Some of the stories are really depressing,” Obama told the 40 freshman, who were chosen to meet with the president during freshman orientation, according to school officials.
“You hear about people who are sick but don’t have health care, and suddenly they get a bill for $100,000, and there’s no way they can pay for it, and they’re about to lose their house. And you’re just reminded that the country is full of really good people who sometimes are going through a hard time,” Obama said.
“They just need a break. They need a little bit of help. Maybe the way things are set up right now isn’t always fair for people, and that motivates you, because you say, well, I can’t make everything perfect, I can’t prevent somebody from getting sick, but maybe I can make sure that they’ve got insurance so that when they do get sick, they’re going to get some help.”
Another student asked the president about health care in Iraq and Afghanistan: “And my question is, currently 36 countries have universal health coverage, including Iraq and Afghanistan, which have it paid for by the United States. Why can’t the United States have universal health coverage?”