State of the Union


“I will not walk away from these Americans and neither should the people in this chamber. Don’t walk away. Not now. Finish the job for the American people. Let’s get it done.? – President Obama on Americans? demand for a just and affordable health care system

Tonight, President Obama renewed the drive for comprehensive health care reform, calling for a reexamination of the plan on the table but opening the door for other options.

The cancer community doesn?t care about the method, whether it?s piece by piece or in an omnibus bill. What we care about is change that creates affordable care and an end to unethical practices by insurers that wreak havoc on our lives.

The President made clear that he?s heard our call for reform and will continue to make a just, affordable system a priority.

-Doug Ulman, president and CEO of LIVESTRONG and three-time cancer survivor


  1. Shane Gilman says:

    What call for Health Care Reform? From what I hear MOST Americans want Insurance reform not health care. We have an amazing health care system.

  2. Troy Walker says:

    We have a great health care system if you aren’t sick. Tell the families on the verge of banruptcy how great the system is. It’s bad enough watching your child fight for his life — no one deserves to do it from the poor house.

  3. cucyln says:

    I agree with Shane “Insurance Reform” keep the government out of it.

  4. Joe Keffer says:

    Shane – We have an amazing health care system??? Wake up. We have great research and facilities in many places, but there are huge gaps in coverage and access. And the system is complicated and unwieldy…unnecessarily so. The constitution urges us to “promote the general welfare.” Well, I am certain that health care counts.

  5. Ryan Link says:

    Semantics – Healthcare Reform / Insurance Reform – we can bicker about that all day, call it what you will, it needs to be done. My father spent 3 years battling with his insurance company to have his prostatectomy and related treatment covered – they claimed that the prostate cancer was a pre-existing condition since he switched insurance just prior to being diagnosed. Fortunately, he was blessed to be deemed cancer free and his insurance finally paid up. Too many people are not that lucky – and need the help – and that help needs to come from all angles the public, government and private entities.

  6. F Schuring says:

    The US health care system is not ‘amazing’. Indeed, it’s kind for the people that aren’t sick, the people that are and cannot cough up the money have a huge problem.


    Take the Dutch health care system, everybody pays around 90 euro’s for their health care insurance (or more if you want additional (e.g. dental) insurance). When I break a leg or have a heart attack, I do not need to pay big money or something like that, it’s just insured…

    The system works because EVERYBODY pays the 90 euro’s. Because of the social aspect in this system instead of the American ‘I pay for my own’, it works nicely and is one of the best systems in the world.

    It would be nice not to see those programs about poor Americans that visit a stadium for free dental surgery anymore…

    Greetings from the Netherlands

  7. Ben King says:

    Health Care Reform what a joke! I have yet to meet one person that wants this to pass. I work in an office of 10 people, all but 2 voted for Obama, and they don’t even want it to pass.

    Listen to the American people, let this bill die!

  8. Josh says:

    The problem, gentlemen, is that the “demand” for Health Care reform has not come from the American people. As Obama acknowledges, he believes that this bill is required regardless of the will of the people. And that is not how this country’s political system works.

    The federal governmemy has neither the legal nor the moral authority under our Constitution to require it’s citizens to purchase any commercial product. Insurance is not required for life, liberty, or happiness, and the 10th ammendment says the federal gov’t has no authority to regulate products which are do not cross state lines. Insurance products may not legally be sold across state lines, so Congress hasn’t the authority to regulate insurance. If you really want insurance reforms, call your state legislature.

    But since only about 14% of Americans support a single payer system, and about 32% support Health Care reform in general, I don’t expect that to happen.

    And a side warning: If you read the HC bills, there are amazingly large power grabs by the federal gov’t, including direct access to your bank accounts, without requirement for warrants or reason. And I believe that is unnacceptable.

  9. It is true that “we have an amazing health care system” but it is also true that there are incredible problems in accessing care and a great deal of institutionalized injustice in health care. For example, if you read the medical pathology books that are used to teach physicians in this country, there are many comments linking race to disease prevalence. If you systematically go back through those statements and exclude race and only look at income levels, it becomes undeniable that in many cases how much money you make is much more important than race in establishing risk for developing particular diseases.

  10. Josh says:

    As a cancer survivor and Canadian watching the debate over healthcare in the US, it confuses me to see so many people against having a paid health care system. How much does it cost for a CT, X-Ray?s, Dr. Appt., Chemo and Radiation treatments. I honestly cannot tell you because I have never ( and I mean NEVER) have seen a bill. I walk into the hospital, doctors office of my choice and get treatment. Yes there are wait times for some items which are more elective surgeries. From the time I saw my family doctor to the time I was diagnosed was 2 weeks. I was in surgery 5 days later (including a weekend). I know you have heard a lot about the negative of having a government ran health care. As a user of the health care I appreciate having it available. I am only 35 years old at present?can you imagine how much this would cost me if I wasn?t living in a country with health care.

    It does not affect me whatever the decision made about health care in the US. I am curious why everyone is so scared of a paid health care system. As a fellow cancer survivor with another 6 years of close monitoring and follows to go, I wish you all good luck no matter the decision. LIVESTRONG!

  11. Joe says:

    The Livestrong stance on ‘health care reform’ has puzzled me. I honestly have no idea what version of ‘reform’ the foundation supports. Instead of seeming to support whatever comes down the pike, why not outline some specific principles that would help families fighting cancer and advocate for those principles?

    Are health insurance changes really what you’re after?

    What are the 3 major changes (the end result, not a proposal on how to get there) that will have a major impact on families fighting cancer?

    The message on this one seems muddled.

  12. Paul S. says:

    I say get the insurance companies out of health care. I can tell you, because I have dealt with them, they are bloated, inept bureaucracies that makes dealing with the government seem great by comparison. The system is broken. Thank you for working to make sure health care reform survives.

  13. Jeff says:

    I want the government to work for me, I don’t want to work for the government. I agree that their are some necessary changes needed in regard to portability of insurance and pre-existing conditions, but a single-payer system is not the answer!

  14. KT says:

    I agree with all of you and I think you all are on the same page just looking at it differently. It’s not the quality of care the US health-care providers can give us, we have cutting-edge medical system, amazing doctors and state-of-the-art facilities. It’s what we (as individuals) have the access to and at what cost. The insurance companies, lawyers and drug companies have a bind on us and rule what, when and how much it will cost to get care we need. We, as Americans, must be more specific about explaining to our elected leaders what we want. The government needs to help the American people by breaking the ties these companies have on us and allowing access to the greatest health-care system in the world at a reasonable price and not deny any US citizen services, period. NOT a quickly thrown together hodge-podge of BS and buy-offs that will break us and our children’s future. Break the lawyers and the insurance companies not businesses and individuals!

  15. Jeff S says:

    It’s interesting to hear about the healthcare systems in Canada and Holland. Unfortunately, the US will never be a “everyone pays the same” system. The problem is it a system where “take my money and give it to someone else” system. In California alone there are 20 to 30 million people that can’t pay. They can come across the border and walk into a school or hostipal and ask for service. They get it, and I pay for it.

  16. Reid says:

    The costs of healthcare treatment can be outrageous, for sure. There is no majic wand someone can wave and make it more affordable. The price of healthcare is very simple: as we get older, we require greater care and that costs more money. Of course, there are some cases where our children are brought into the system at an all too early age. Healthcare is a sort of bottomless pit. It is something we all require at various stages and degrees in our lives. Whether a person has insurance or not, it is problematic. Insurance companies provide insurance to make a profit, it’s a business.

    Likely, one of the only true ways to solve the problem is to delegate each state to provide care for its citizens.

    First, the needs of the people in New York are most likely going to be different from the needs of the people in Texas or North Dakota.

    Secondly, many states have ways and resources of building budget surpluses which would better equip them with the burden of funding healthcare. Some of examples would be tollroads and lotteries. Some states also have state income taxes while others have other ways of generating revenue. The federal government is very limited in the ways it can generate revenue and that boils down to raising taxes or lowering them. Each, most likely, has its advantages and disadvantages.

    Finally, the federal government is not managing its resources very effectively to begin with. We are spending too much money on too many projects and we just can’t afford to keep down that path, as a country. If we do, it begins to be a national security concern among others. Eventually, there is a limit to the amount of money the federal government can borrow. One possible result is that we all rely on the federal government to provide our healthcare (granted this is an extreme example) and suddenly it goes bankrupt or they pass a bill that rescinds the healthcare new healthcare law. Now, we are all without healthcare. The point to take away is that there are too many variables that can have a negative impact of a federal healthcare program.

    It is much easier to keep tabs on our state and local officials than it is our federal ones.

    This is just my two cents. I truly hope that whatever we do is good for our country and can help our people. Certainly, something should be done.

  17. Robyn says:

    The current so called health care system fails those people who need it the most. The unemployed, the below poverty level people, and the homeless. My brother died of colon cancer 3 years ago because he couldn’t afford insurance. When he applied for the medical card it took so long that by the time he went to the doctors to be diagnosed, he was already in stage 4 colon cancer. After 6 months of chemo and waiting for radiation, Rick developed pneumonia. His immune system was non-existent so he succumbed to the pneumonia and died at the age of 53. Where was our great health care system when he needed it??

  18. Tim says:

    You ask (Josh-Canadian) why America (minority but vocal) is afraid of a paid health care system? Because too many folks are listening to their party’s rhetoric (right wing media (i.e., Fox), blogs, etc.) instead of trying to understand the issues folks are going thru. They’re more interested in not having the opposing party succeed at something than in helping their fellow Americans. Your stats (Josh-American) are way out of whack, what are your sources for those survey’s? The fact is, Health care expenses are the #1 reason for personal bankruptcy in the US…its clearly a broken system and if you think it’ll fix itself, your delusional. We may not agree on the right way to fix the issues but there’s no argument for a position claiming there’s no monumental Health Care issues to resolve.

  19. Richard Galicki says:

    The system needs some reform but in a way that is constitutional,the tenth ammendment grants the rights not explicitly granted by the constitution to the federal govt. to the states thus state health insurance reform would be the fix not a 3000 page federal bill that has unions certain states and pharma getting special deals and according to non partisan accounting groups would cause premiums for everyone to increase.
    The reasons for the high cost of healthcare in this country are many too many to list all but here are some and note the current plan doesnt address any of these.
    1. tort reform doctors and hospitals pay insane amounts of money to protect themselves from lawsuits,the companies that insure them have protocals for every symptom tests that must be performed (defensive testing)this raises costs for all.
    2. medicaid and medicare set the payout to doctors and hospitals (remember this is the fed. govt.)they pay on average $0.60 on the dollar charged who do you think makes up the additional 40 cents per dollar we do.
    3. we have the best doctors and research in the world you wouldnt expect to pay the same for a caddilac as you would for a kia.
    4. In the 1970’s there was a bill passed mandating hospitals and doctors to treat anyone regardless of abuility to pay or even legal status (yes the illegal immigrants get free health care at a cost to us)the hospitals and doctors pass these costs on to us the paying consumer
    I think we need to prevent (insurance)companies from dropping people due to cost of illness.But the current bill is a paper lion it doesnt fix any of the problems it actually creates more problems than it solves the end goal of this administration and congress is socialized medicine (by the way which sucks unless you are the wealthy and priviledged).Just remember the bill is 2765 pages and the house still has to add their 2 cents there could be a lot of liberty steeling rules hidden in those pages.

  20. livestrongsupporter says:

    I would like LIVESTRONG to only support the following changes: 1) Portability of insurance coverage from one job to the next. 2) Eliminate pre-existing coverage limitations. 3) Remove state barriers to allow more competition and simplicity. 4) Medical malpractice reform. 5) Provide COBRA subsidies to people who are laid off from their jobs for up to 12 months (essentially make permanent, the current rule in effect). 6) Allow people to save $ tax free to pay for HC costs not covered by insurance up to 50% of their pay in HSA’s. 7) Require employers above 20 employees to provide access to HC coverage to all employees working at least 20 hours/wk.

    Outside of these changes, the government should stay out of the HC system. These are the changes that LIVESTRONG/LAF should support. None of these things cost the gov’t (read: taxpayers/citizens) add’l $ and they will bring the costs down while expanding care.

  21. Hank Bratt says:

    Dear Doug,
    I read your blog. It was thoughtful, succinct and 100% accurate. However, I am deeply troubled by the “comments” in response! As a physician I know the insurance companies tactics first hand. I am also now paying $1000/mo for a $5000 deductible BCBS PPO plan. Believe me it is no “Cadillac” plan. Who can afford that? It was the only way I could get around pre-existing conditions including two broken clavicles years ago from bike racing that are completely irrelevant. Are Americans so blinded by anger & ignorance that they do not see that deregulation & privatization of our financial sector is exactly what led to our current economic situation. Have they no compassion for their fellow beings? I am frightened by the responses to your very simple comment. I can only hope these comments are not representative of the majority of people in our country. Personally, I felt the presidents speech was very thoughtful & passionate. He is a very strong person!
    Thanks for letting me vent! Keep up your brilliant efforts!
    Hank Bratt, MD

  22. Kevin Brown says:

    We need healthcare reform, we need insurance reform, we need coverage for everyone. The cynicism among the American people that appears in recent polls comes from, in my opinion, what has been a truly frustrating, highly political process play out. Those of us who want it are losing faith in our political process and our politicians, those who don?t must be out of touch with the realities of this debate. If we don?t bring healthcare expenses down we will never pay down our national deficit, more people will go uninsured (by the millions) as premiums continue to climb, and our family and friends will be forced to battle illness outside this ?amazing? healthcare system. Don?t confuse healthy skepticism for current proposals as a reflection for the overall desire of healthcare reform. We need healthcare reform, we need insurance reform, we need coverage for everyone.

  23. Hank Bratt says:

    As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon I have first hand (objective) experience in dealing with insurance companies. When I order an MRI or other basic, necessary test for a child it is automatically denied by one of this country’s largest & best known insurance companies. They call it “peer review” but they are not my peers. They are nurses or physicians paid by the insurance company to automatically say “no”! I have to then take 30 minutes each time to personally call and threaten to document their name in the patient’s chart to force them to take responsibility for their denial! This same company had profits in the billions and a CEO with 20+ million in bonuses. How am I rewarded for fighting for appropriate medical care for your children? They just drop you as a provider! Forget the politics….if you do not appreciate the fundamental problem you are uninformed.

  24. Sandor says:

    Dear Mr. Ulman,
    I absolutely believe the medical treatments that enabled yourself and Lance Armstrong to beat cancer would not be available today without the world class healthcare system currently offered in the United States of America. Obama and his ideologues have a very twisted view of ?cooperation? and ?his-way-or-the-highway? bipartisanship. Flatly, I do not agree with his and your agenda. It concerns me to see that part of my donation to the Livestrong Foundation is being used to perpetuate misinformation like this.

    I will seek elsewhere to donate my money in the name of Cancer Research without a political agenda to destroy our healthcare system for a free society.

    Sandor Racz

  25. RIck says:

    Lets face it the lobbist groups for the health care industry have been padding the pockets of our politicians for many many years to get what they want. They certainly don’t want this gravy train to end.

  26. Amanda says:

    I loved President Obama’s address, personally. And it’s good to know that Livestrong supports efforts to have national health care reform. It really is ridiculous, as others said, that some Americans are so ignorant that they don’t want others in their country to be healthy. As someone else said, they are just too determined to undermine the efforts of the Democrats supporting the bill. Another problem with Americans is the attitude that we should all pay for our own selves, but let others in our country suffer. We are giving money to Haiti, to those people who need it desperately, so why can’t we do the same for our own citizens? It’s time to pull together and try to get this bill passed. It’s something that should’ve been done a long time ago.
    And Hank, it was very interesting to see your point-of-view as a physician, someone who has first-hand experience with the issue. I hope one day everybody will realize that along with liberty, freedom, and equality, Americans deserve the right to health.

  27. dave says:

    I’m done here. This site should not be pushing it’s clear left leaning political bent on it’s members. Obviously there is a problem that needs addressing with our health care. Giving it all to the government is NOT the solution.

  28. Brad says:

    Lance where are you? This is so wrong. Don’t let these short sighted, feel good, destructive policies be endorsed by your team. The foundation is too positive to destroyed by these emotional fools. Please quickly regain your focus.

  29. Nice article. I was able to send this to some doctorI know that could use this on their blog..

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