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Obama Pushes for His Health Care Reform Plan 

  • Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama is spending several days promoting his health insurance reform proposal to skeptical lawmakers and a skeptical American public. Opposition Republicans say the president is moving too quickly.

In his weekly address, President Obama tells several anecdotes that he says illustrate the need to reform the way Americans pay for medical care.

"It's about a woman in Colorado who told us that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her insurance company-the one she had paid over $700 a month to-refused to pay for her treatment. She had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life," he said.

Mr. Obama also says health care is an issue that affects the stability of the entire U.S. economy.

Some Democrats in Congress have expressed opposition to parts of the president's initiative. Some lawmakers from both parties have asked for more time to discuss it.

Senator Jon Kyl, in the weekly Republican message, says Mr. Obama is trying to speed his plan through Congress to avoid scrutiny.

"But the president and some Democrats insist we must rush this plan through. Why? Because the more Americans know about it, the more they oppose it. Something this important needs to be done right, rather than being done quickly," he said.

The president will spend much of the next few days trying to sell his plan to Congress and to the American people. He will hold a nationally televised press conference on Wednesday, at which he is expected to discuss his health reform proposal. And on Thursday, he will take his campaign to an audience in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr. Obama is likely to tell the audience that opponents of his reform proposal are acting out of a vested interest in the current state of health care.

"We know the same special interests and their agents in Congress will make the same old arguments, and use the same scare tactics that have stopped reform before because they profit from this relentless escalation in health care costs," he said.

Senator Kyl says one of Republicans' biggest objections to the plan is its cost and its potential effects on the nation's deficit.

"Their plan would increase spending by more than $2 trillion when fully implemented, and would, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, add additional costs onto an already unsustainable system," he said.

But Mr. Obama is assuring Americans that his proposal will help strengthen the U.S. economy, and not expand the deficit, which is estimated at $1 trillion.

"I want to be very clear: I will not sign on to any health plan that adds to our deficits over the next decade. And by helping improve quality and efficiency, the reforms we make will help bring out deficits under control in the long term," he said.

Health reform legislation has passed two committees in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. It does not appear likely that the full House will vote on the proposal before it recesses in August, as Democratic leaders had hoped.

The U.S. is the only major industrialized democracy without a comprehensive government health insurance program.

Also Saturday, the president spoke by telephone with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Mr. Obama congratulated his counterpart on his July 8 re-election, and expressed support for and solidarity with his government after Friday's terrorist attacks in Jakarta. The president offered U.S. government support for the Indonesian investigation of the incident.

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