President Obama at the Catholic Health Association Conference

Millennial co-founder Christopher Hale offered his thoughts in a preview of the speech at Time:

The President realizes that ahead of Pope Francis’s visit later this year, he needs to shore up support for his signature health care reform law in the Catholic community, particularly in light of the bishops’ concerns about how the law protects the Church’s religious liberty. The Catholic Church in the United States supports a universal health care law that both protects the poor and the Church’s right to practice its faith without undue interference from the federal government. The President needs to convince the Catholic Church that’s exactly what Obamacare does.

One of the President’s first comments was on the power of faith:

I saw how kindness and compassion and faith can change the arc of people’s lives.  And I saw the power of faith — a shared belief that every human being, made in the image of God, deserves to live in dignity; that all children, no matter who they are or where they come from or how much money they were born into, ought to have the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential; that we are all called, in the words of His Holiness Pope Francis, “to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being.”

He also praised his hosts, the CHA:

For decades, your member hospitals have been on the front lines, often serving the marginalized, the vulnerable and the sick and the uninsured.  And that belief is at the heart of why we came together more than five years ago to reform our health care system – to guarantee that every American has access to quality, affordable care.

President Obama explained the source of their commitment to expanding healthcare so that all might be covered:

For as long as there were Americans who couldn’t afford decent health care, as long as there were people who had to choose between paying for medicine or paying the rent, as long as there were parents who had to figure out whether they could sell or borrow to pay for a child’s treatment just a few months more, and beg for God’s mercy to make it work in time – as long as those things were happening, America was not living up to our highest ideals. And that’s why providers and faith leaders like you called for expanding access to affordable care.

And he discussed the values that shaped the push for reform:

What kind of country do we want to be?  Are we a country that’s defined by values that say access to health care is a commodity awarded to only the highest bidders, or by the values that say health care is a fundamental right?  Do we believe that where you start should determine how far you go, or do we believe that in the greatest nation on Earth, everybody deserves the opportunity to make it — to make of their lives what they will?

The rugged individualism that defines America has always been bound by a shared set of values, an enduring sense that we’re in this together, that America is not a place where we simply turn away from the sick, or turn our backs on the tired, the poor, the huddled masses.  It is a place sustained by the idea:  I am my brother’s keeper.  I am my sister’s keeper — that we have an obligation to put ourselves in our neighbor’s shoes and see each other’s common humanity.

And so, after a century of talk, after decades of trying, after a year of sustained debate, we finally made health care reform a reality here in America.

The full speech can be read here.