This morning First Lady, Michelle Obama joined Tom Joyner on his nationally syndicated radio show to discuss the importance of celebrating Black History Month and continue the journey started by our ancestors. Mrs. Obama also promoted the Affordable Care Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation in her husband’s time in the White House.
The full interview from the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) can be heard on BlackAmericaWeb.com.
TOM JOYNER: And on the phone is the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama. Happy Black History Month!
Michelle OBAMA: Oh, Happy Black History Month to you all. How’s everybody doing?
TOM JOYNER: Everybody’s doing good.
SYBIL WILKES: How are you doing?
J. ANTHONY BROWN: Doing good.
Michelle OBAMA: We’re doing great. You know, we …
TOM JOYNER: How are the girls doing?
Michelle OBAMA: They are growing up, and they need to stop it. (Laughter) But I can’t do anything about it.
TOM JOYNER: I noticed how tall …
J. ANTHONY BROWN: Yeah.
TOM JOYNER: … they are. I haven’t seen them …
Michelle OBAMA: Yeah.
TOM JOYNER: … in probably six months when I came to the birthday party and they are tall.
Michelle OBAMA: Yeah. They are hovering over you, aren’t they, Tom?
TOM JOYNER: Yes.
Michelle OBAMA: Yeah, well, they come from tall parents. But they’re doing great. We’re doing well. All is good.
TOM JOYNER: Yeah.
Michelle OBAMA: You know, I know you all are being hit by the weather in Chicago and I’m thinking about you, but I have to say I’m not so sad that I’m not there. (Laughter)
TOM JOYNER: Yeah, you remember those days, huh?
Michelle OBAMA: Oh, my gosh. I know. And with schools closing. That’s some serious stuff going on right there.
TOM JOYNER: Yeah. Yeah.
Michelle OBAMA: They never close schools in Chicago.
TOM JOYNER: In Chicago, really. No.
Michelle OBAMA: Well.
TOM JOYNER: The city that works.
MICHELLE OBAMA: That’s right. That’s right.
SYBIL WILKES: Sometimes has to shut down, yeah.
TOM JOYNER: So …
MICHELLE OBAMA: But we are good here. We are absolutely good here.
SYBIL WILKES: But you’re on the road and you’re talking a lot about the Affordable Healthcare Act.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Absolutely. Absolutely.
TOM JOYNER: And you’re talking about education too.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We’re talking about education, because as Barack said in his State of the Union address, you know, what we have to focus on, particularly as we celebrate Black History Month, is not just the progress we’ve made but remember how much more work we have left to do. And we need to focus on increasing opportunity for everybody. And for this administration it means healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. It means economic mobility.
It means helping our young men of color. It means making sure more kids have access to college and it’s affordable. So that’s what we’re going to be focusing on, not just this month, but for the rest of this administration, and making sure that people are signing up for healthcare is critical. Because as you all know one in five folks in the black community are uninsured.
And when you don’t have insurance, you know, that means that not only are you forgoing primary care and long term care that you need. That happens in our communities. I grew up in a household where my father and grandfather would pride themselves on never going to the doctor, right?
TOM JOYNER: Mm-hmm.
SYBIL WILKES: Mm-hmm.
MICHELLE OBAMA: It wasn’t always a good thing. But for those who are accessing care and don’t have the means to pay for it they’re saddled with debt as a result of uncompensated care. And now with the ACA that’s a thing of the past. Millions of Americans are going to be able to access affordable healthcare, but people have to access it. And that …
SYBIL WILKES: And things are good online.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, the website issues have been improved.
TOM JOYNER: Has Mrs. Robinson tested it?
MICHELLE OBAMA: (Laugh)
TOM JOYNER: That’s what I need to know.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, I need to check in and see if Mrs. Robinson …
TOM JOYNER: If she can work it I know it’s fixed.
J. ANTHONY BROWN: That it’s user friendly.
TOM JOYNER: Yeah, it’s user friendly.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We’ve talked to a lot of people who found that going on it it’s easy, the language on the website is easy to understand, but it’s important for people to know that the website provides people with access to private insurance plans. There’s a myth out there that somehow the ACA is about government insurance. But this is just giving people options to affordable plans where private insurers are competing with each other.
And because they’re competing and everybody could look and understand what one insurance plan is offering versus another it makes them more competitive which means that the costs come down. So right now the average person can get insurance for less than $100 a month. And that’s what I’m telling folks. It’s like, you know, for less of a cellphone bill, or the cost of a pair of tennis shoes people can have the peace of mind that we need and the access to the preventative care our community needs so that we are healthy and in the position to hold down jobs and get our education.
And I’m really stressing that we need young people to sign up for insurance. And that’s what I’ve been asking the women in our communities to talk to your young men, to talk to the young women in your lives and understand that our kids cannot walk around thinking that they’re invincible. And that they’re not going to fall and slip on a piece of ice, or step on a piece of glass at the club. And, you know, if you don’t have insurance, you’re going to go to the emergency room and you’re going to walk out with thousands of dollars of debt that will stay with them for life. Which is what’s happening in our community. People, as I said, are saddled with uncompensated care. And there’s just no reason for it now.
TOM JOYNER: Mmm.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I’m trying to tell young people you have to insure your car in this country, correct?
SYBIL WILKES: Mm-hmm.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Why do we treat our cars better than we …
TOM JOYNER: Better than we do our bodies?
MICHELLE OBAMA: … our bodies?J. ANTHONY BROWN: Yeah.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And that’s, you know, one of the things that I want to encourage your listeners to do. That if you’re listening and you have healthcare but you know that there’s somebody in your life, a young person in particular, who thinks; nah, I don’t need it, I don’t want to spend that monthly. You got to shake them and make them understand that this isn’t a joke.
And that we never know what curveballs life is going to throw us. And now we don’t have to guess. We don’t have to pray and hope that things will go okay. With the AHA everybody can have access to insurance. And that’s what we need, to begin that process of economic stability and growth and competitiveness that we need in our communities to stay strong and stable. So I’ve been pushing that. And people need to sign up by the end of March.
TOM JOYNER: What’s the website?
MICHELLE OBAMA: Healthcare.gov.
TOM JOYNER: Healthcare.gov.
MICHELLE OBAMA: But people who aren’t comfortable going online, there’s a phone number, I know you guys have that, I won’t waste that, people can call. They can get in person, one on one assistance. They can go into community health clinics who are all working to get people signed up, if they want to sit down with somebody, there are a lot of providers out there that are reaching out and I just urge people to, you know, if they aren’t comfortable going online they can do this in person as well and they can use the phone number to find out how to get help I their area.
TOM JOYNER: All right.
MICHELLE OBAMA: But we have to get our folks signed up for insurance.
TOM JOYNER: All right, Mrs. First Lady.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Yeah, so that’s one of the things I’m doing this February. What you all doing? (Laughter)
SYBIL WILKES: Well, we celebrate black history every day.
TOM JOYNER: Every day.J. ANTHONY BROWN: Every day.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Every day. That’s what I tell my kids every day. Because our young people have to, you know, they have to understand where we come from in order to know where we go to go.
TOM JOYNER: That’s right.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We still have a lot of work to do. A lot of work left to do in our communities.
TOM JOYNER: Good job. The First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama.
SYBIL WILKES: Black history, right here. (Laugh)
TOM JOYNER: Black history, right here.
J. ANTHONY BROWN: Every day.
MICHELLE OBAMA: (Laugh)
TOM JOYNER: All right?
MICHELLE OBAMA: All right.
TOM JOYNER: Tell the big chief I said hello.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I will. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you all. You all be good, okay?
TOM JOYNER: All right, homie.
J. ANTHONY BROWN/SYBIL WILKES: We’ll try.
TOM JOYNER: Okay.
J. ANTHONY BROWN: We’ll try. (Laughter)
MICHELLE OBAMA: Thanks so much, you guys.
SYBIL WILKES: God bless you.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Bye-bye.