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U.S. President Barack Obama says the movement to reform the U.S. health
insurance system is gaining momentum with the help of politicians who
have crossed political lines to support it. The president delivered
his message in his weekly radio and Internet address.
After months of rigorous debate on health
insurance reform, fought largely along political party lines, President
Obama says a bipartisan solution is starting to take shape.
approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and
Democrats, and people across the political spectrum," he said. "In
fact, what's remarkable is not that we've had a spirited debate about
health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come
together behind it."
Mr. Obama praised several Republicans who
have recently voiced support for health insurance reform, including two
former Senate Majority Leaders, Bob Dole and Bill Frist, and California
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But President Obama recognized
that, for the most part, Republican opposition remains one of the
biggest challenges to his plans.
"There are some in Washington
today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics,
working to score political points, even if it means burdening this
country with an unsustainable status quo," said the president. "A
status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families,
our businesses and our government."
President Obama says the
independent, nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has concluded the
current Senate Finance Committee bill would make health coverage
affordable for millions of Americans who don't have it today.
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Delivering the Republican response, Senator George LeMieux of Florida recognized the need for reform, but urged caution.
in the Congress have a duty to tackle this problem, but the solution we
settle upon should not be rushed, and the solution should not be worse
than the problem we are trying to solve," he said.
a Democrat-sponsored plan in the Senate would unfairly burden states
like Florida that will have to pay the bill for government health care
"Unlike the federal government, our states have to
balance their budgets, and they can't print more money to pay for
programs they can't afford," he said. "Piling on additional obligations
would mean even more severe cuts to roads, schools, law enforcement and
other essential state services."
LeMieux also complains the
Democrats plan has new taxes on health insurance providers which he
says would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
Senate Finance Committee is due to vote next Tuesday on a health care
reform bill that would require all Americans to get health insurance or
face penalties. The legislation is projected to cost $829 billion over
the next decade.