President Obama shares why the night the ACA passed meant more to him than election night


(light, airy music) – That’s it. (crowd cheering and clapping) – The night that the ACA passed meant more to me than
the night I was elected because you run a political campaign, you run for office, you
go through all of that not just to get in office, not just to have a title. You do it to get something done, to actually deliver for the
people that sent you there. The thing that kept me going
through all the ups and downs was the conversations I had had with people on the campaign trail. Folks who thought they
might have to choose between paying their healthcare bill or paying their mortgage,
or putting off retirement because they had gotten sick or a family member had gotten sick. That made you determined to go ahead and get this thing done. – When I would talk to the president, it was usually about how different aspects of the policy that we were working on to try to get all Americans covered, how the pieces would work,
but he always brought it back to people that he had
met, and often by name. He was trying to make sure
that the law would help them. He continued to read
letters, of course, everyday, and a number of them
were about healthcare. It’s those letters, it’s those people, who gave him the determination to keep going and to get this done. – Natoma Canfield is a great example of the kind of ordinary person who decided one day, I’m gonna be heard. And she happened to write me a letter. Here she was, a self-employed woman who had done everything right. She was a cancer survivor, and had always paid her premiums, but because she had a
pre-existing condition her rates just kept on skyrocketing to the point where she
couldn’t afford them anymore. She lived in constant
terror that if, in fact, that cancer recurred, she
would lose everything. – I’ve never written
to a president before. I just wanted somebody somewhere to know how hard I’d struggled. You know, I didn’t think it
would ever get read, really, but just putting it down in writing and sending it off made me feel better. – He invited a number of executives of health insurance companies
into the White House. He wanted to impress upon them why it was so urgent
that we get this done. So he got the letter out
and he read it to them. – We ended up reaching out to Natoma. We had a rally. She actually probably helped
persuade a member of Congress where she lived to vote
in favor of the bill. – Thank you Mister Speaker. Her story took me to a place
I haven’t been in a long time. I’m talking about Natoma
Canfield, the face of this debate. – That ended up being one of those moments where I said, “This is why we’re here.” She was an inspiration, not just for me, but for a lot of people,
and that’s a great example of how citizens who decide to get involved can have an extraordinary
impact on history. I think Natoma did. The thing I want every visitor to the Obama Presidential Center to understand about healthcare is this wasn’t just something that I did. This is something that we did. It was a collective effort,
and a grassroots movement, and hopefully it inspires
visitors to understand that their participation can bring about big change, as well. (upbeat music)

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