[Health care debate]
[National News,]


Health Care
National News

...Obama hammers away at insurance industry abuses!

March 3, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Congress should "finish its work" on health-care reform, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday afternoon. Obama said that his health overhaul bill contains ideas from both Democrats and Republicans and that Americans are waiting for Washington to act. "I don't know how this plays politically, but I know it's right," Obama said.

President Obama urged Congress to vote ďup or downĒ on sweeping health care legislation in the next few weeks, endorsing a plan that denies Senate Republicans the right to kill the bill by stalling with a filibuster.

ďI donít see how another year of negotiations would help. Moreover, the insurance companies arenít starting over,Ē Obama said, rejecting Republican calls to begin anew on an effort to remake the health care system.

Those Republicans may be crafty, seeking to extend the opportunity to continue to call Obama a failure even though he has clearly won the health care debate regarding the need for reform, Obama put an end to all their nonsense today, with one bold, remarkable call to action. Needless to say, it is pointless to blame him for all the obstruction that Republicans believe to be the political currency they will require to defeat democrats at the polls.

This is what Obama said: "We began our push to reform health insurance last March, in this room, with doctors and nurses who know the system best. And so itís fitting to be joined by all of you as we bring this journey to a close.

Last Thursday, I spent seven hours at a summit where Democrats and Republicans engaged in a public and very substantive discussion about health care. This meeting capped off a debate that began with a similar summit nearly one year ago. And since then, every idea has been put on the table. Every argument has been made. Everything there is to say about health care has been said -- (laughter) -- and just about everybody has said it. (Laughter.) So now is the time to make a decision about how to finally reform health care so that it works, not just for the insurance companies, but for Americaís families and Americaís businesses.

Now, where both sides say they agree is that the status quo is not working for the American people. Health insurance is becoming more expensive by the day. Families canít afford it. Businesses canít afford it. The federal government canít afford it. Smaller businesses and individuals who donít get coverage at work are squeezed especially hard. And insurance companies freely ration health care based on whoís sick and whoís healthy; who can pay and who canít. That's the status quo. That's the system we have right now.

Democrats and Republicans agree that this is a serious problem for America. And we agree that if we do nothing -Ė if we throw up our hands and walk away -Ė itís a problem that will only grow worse. Nobody disputes that. More Americans will lose their family's health insurance if they switch jobs or lose their job. More small businesses will be forced to choose between health care and hiring. More insurance companies will deny people coverage who have preexisting conditions, or they'll drop people's coverage when they get sick and need it most. And the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid will sink our government deeper and deeper and deeper into debt. On all of this we agree.

So the question is, what do we do about it?

On one end of the spectrum, there are some who've suggested scrapping our system of private insurance and replacing it with a government-run health care system. And though many other countries have such a system, in America it would be neither practical nor realistic.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are those, and this includes most Republicans in Congress, who believe the answer is to loosen regulations on the insurance industry -- whether it's state consumer protections or minimum standards for the kind of insurance they can sell. The argument is, is that that will somehow lower costs. I disagree with that approach. I'm concerned that this would only give the insurance industry even freer rein to raise premiums and deny care.

So I don't believe we should give government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats more control over health care in America. I believe it's time to give the American people more control over their health care and their health insurance. I don't believe we can afford to leave life-and-death decisions about health care to the discretion of insurance company executives alone. I believe that doctors and nurses and physician assistants like the ones in this room should be free to decide what's best for their patients. (Applause.)

Now, the proposal I put forward gives Americans more control over their health insurance and their health care by holding insurance companies more accountable. It builds on the current system where most Americans get their health insurance from their employer. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. I can tell you as the father of two young girls, I would not want any plan that interferes with the relationship between a family and their doctor.

Essentially, my proposal would change three things about the current health care system. First, it would end the worst practices of insurance companies. No longer would they be able to deny your coverage because of a preexisting condition. No longer would they be able to drop your coverage because you got sick. No longer would they be able to force you to pay unlimited amounts of money out of your own pocket. No longer would they be able to arbitrarily and massively raise premiums like Anthem Blue Cross recently tried to do in California -- up to 39 percent increases in one year in the individual market. Those practices would end.

Second, my proposal would give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that members of Congress get for themselves -- because if itís good enough for members of Congress, itís good enough for the people who pay their salaries. (Applause.)

Obama won the debate. If those who want to bury the opportunity to reform succeed, it is certainly not his fault.

Is anybody listening?

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