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May 07, 2010

Obama: Health Care Reform Already Working

U.S. President Barack Obama says March's health-care reform bill already is improving millions of Americans' lives.

In his weekly address Saturday, Mr. Obama touted the first benefits of Democrat-backed legislation that narrowly passed through Congress earlier this year.

Mr. Obama says the entire health-insurance industry has agreed to stop canceling the coverage of people when they get sick, ahead of a September deadline requiring insurers to do so.

Mr. Obama also says a new federal office, the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, will help states stop insurance companies from "gaming" (exploiting) the health-care system.  He says his administration has prevented one company, Anthem Blue Cross, from raising health insurance rates by 39 percent in the western state of California.

The opposition Republican Party's weekly address dealt with the most recent piece of major legislation in Congress - the financial reform bill.

The top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Richard Shelby of Alabama, criticized the bill for overlooking the mortgage giants known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The U.S. government's takeover of those firms in 2008 was an early milestone in the global financial crisis.

The U.S. Senate has been debating a complicated reform bill aimed at protecting consumers from abusive financial practices and ending government "bailouts" of troubled sectors of the U.S. economy.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of financial reform in December.  If the Senate passes its bill, both versions must be combined and voted on again before President Barack Obama can sign financial reform into law.