News

    Obama to Push Controversial Health Care Plan During National Speech

    Multimedia

    Audio

    or to President Barack Obama's speech on Health Care on VOAnews.com Live at 0000 UTC, 8:00 pm EDT

    President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress in a few hours seeking support from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and the American people for an overhaul of the U.S. health care system. Majority Democrats vow to push forward with their plans in the House and Senate -- with or without support from Republicans.

     

    A key Senate Democrat involved in bipartisan negotiations on health care announced plans on Wednesday to move ahead with a "markup" -- the process of finalizing a bill for full consideration by lawmakers.

    "The time has come for action and we will act. We must move forward if we are going to get this bill done by the end of the year," said Max Baucus, who heads the Senate Finance Committee.

     

    Baucus has spent months negotiating with Republicans and skeptical Democrats on the panel to gain support for a bipartisan version of reform legislation -- one of two measures to emerge in the Senate, along with three in the House of Representatives.

    Baucus said he hopes for some Republican support and that he will be open to amendment suggestions, but none that would pose a threat to a bill that would go before the Finance Committee.

    Although not the only controversial aspect of reform proposals put forward by Democrats and supported by the president, a proposed government-run insurance option -- as an alternative to plans offered to Americans by private companies -- has drawn the most attention.

     

    Democrats and Republicans present sharply divergent views on the so-called "public option". Republicans assert that an expanded government role would threaten the current private system, separate from the federally-administered Medicare system for the elderly, and add to the government budget deficit.

    House Republican leader John Boehner says more government involvement is not the answer. "We have a good system that works well for many people. Everybody understands that we have problems in the current system that can be addressed. But to replace the entire current system with a big, government-run plan is not what the American people want and is certainly not what I want," he said.

    After a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus, Representative John Larson acknowledged that lawmakers in that chamber are continuing to address concerns some members have about the cost of health care reform. "There were other members that put ideas on the table and so we will drill down further in our opportunity to make that we come up with the best bill that brings the Democratic caucus and has the votes to be taken to the floor of the House [of Representatives]," he said.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she believes it is essential that a government-sponsored public option be part of any bill, if it is to be passed by the House.

    Such an option is not part of the plan that will move forward in the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Baucus told reporters on Wednesday that he believes a government option could not pass in the Senate.

    Representative Jim Clyburn, who is responsible for generating Democratic votes in the House, has suggested that government-sponsored insurance could be implemented gradually in "pilot programs" across the country.

    At a news conference, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and officials of groups representing African-Americans and other minorities criticized what they called "lies" circulated by opponents of health care reform -- including suggestions that it is socialism and would reduce care for the elderly.

    Marc Morial, Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League, says minorities make up a significant portion of the 40 million or more Americans without health insurance. "For the more than 40 million Americans -- half of whom are black and brown, and from communities of color -- access to health care would be provided by comprehensive health reform," he said.

    "Thirteen percent of whites in this country do not have health care. Twenty-two percent of blacks, 36 percent of Latinos. The fact that almost twice as many blacks don't have health care as whites in part explains why black children are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white kids. This issue could not be more serious," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

    Controversy over health care reform proposals has cost President Obama public approval points, reflected in the latest opinion polls.

    An Associated Press-GfK [Research] survey before the president's address to Congress showed public disapproval of the way the president has handled the health care reform issue has increased to 52 percent.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.