Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady Before a Visit to Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami, Florida

March 05, 2014

MRS. OBAMA: Thanks! (Applause.) Well, I just happened to be in the neighborhood, and I thought I would come by to check up on you. But one of the reasons why I'm here is that I want to thank all of you, all these assisters, because I think it's so important for people to understand at this point in signing up for the Affordable Care Act -- because sign-up ends at the end of this month. That's important for people to know.

But what you guys are doing here is making sure that people who need help signing up, working their way through the website -- through the process so that folks don't have to go it alone. Because some folks might be a little intimidated to come -- get online and make the phone call. This is all new to so many people. But because of places like this community health center -- and there are thousands of them across the country that are providing the same type of assistance that you all are doing here -- because of your work, we've got 4 million people who have signed up for health care. And that is a milestone. That's a very good thing.

And you all know, because you work in the community health world, how important it is for folks in our communities to have primary preventative care. It is at the core of keeping us whole as people. And in the African American community, unfortunately, one in five of us are not insured, and the numbers are no better in the Hispanic community.

And you all know what that means: It's that people are going without treatment for diabetes, they aren't getting the medicine they need, they aren't getting regular checkups, they're not getting proper guidance with regard to nutrition. The Affordable Care Act is a life-changer for so many Americans who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford insurance.

And what people should understand is that the average adult will be able to get insurance for less than $100 a month. That's a pair gym shoes. That's less than a cell phone bill. And for young people who are around 26 or so, those young folks can probably find a plan for as little as $50 a month.

And that's also one of the things I want to point out, is that it is so important for our young people to sign up. Because we all know that young people think they're invincible -- "I don't need insurance, why should I spend that amount of money a month? I'm healthy. I'm not going to -- I don't need to go to the doctor on a regular basis." But the reality is, for those of us who are mothers and grandmothers and aunts and uncles, we know that anything can happen in life, especially for young people. And the notion that we have our most precious people walking around here -- at any point in time could get hit by a car, could get struck down by an unforeseen illness, and they will not be able to get the care that they need when it costs so little right now.

So what we are -- we want to make sure that even though we've got people here who are signing up, in the process, have already done it, we need people to make sure they reach out to the young people in their lives. And we all have somebody. We all have a nephew, a niece, a little brother, a little sister who isn't thinking about this stuff because they don't have an issue. We need to find those young people and make sure they come to places like this. Many of them are savvy enough to go online and do it themselves, but if they need help they can come to places like this. But they need to sign up by the end of this month. The end of March is the deadline. A lot of people don't know that, but there is a deadline for signing up.

So for those of you out there who have already signed up, congratulations. We are proud of you. Welcome to the world of health care. It is a beautiful place to be. (Laughter.) But if you've already done it, you need to find those young people in particular in your lives who have not done it and aren't thinking about it, and make sure they get signed up by the end of March.

But I am so proud. I come from a background of community health centers. I used to serve on the board for an FQHC in Chicago. And I have seen the impact that having solid health care in the community, on the ground, that good, fundamental primary care, how that can make the entire difference in the life of a community and a family.

So I applaud the work you all are doing and am so proud of your leadership, because these are not easy places to run. But you are doing God's work, and we are so proud and so honored and so thrilled. And, again, I want to congratulate you all for the work that you're doing. I want to thank all of our assisters who have taken the time out of their lives to work with people to get them signed up. We are grateful for your support and your focus on this issue.

So keep up the great work. We've got another month, so hopefully you guys keep working at the pace that you're working at. You're doing such a great job.

And with that, I think I'm going to get a chance to walk around and say hello to you guys personally. So keep it up, keep it up.

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady Before a Visit to Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320118

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