News / USA

Obama Makes Final Public Appeal on Health Care

Ahead of a crucial health-care reform vote in the U.S. House of Representatives expected on Sunday, President Obama says members of Congress face a choice between supporting the interests of insurance companies or taking a historic step to meet the needs of Americans. Democratic leaders are voicing confidence they can achieve the 216 votes required to pass the legislation, while Republicans are vowing to do everything they can to kill it.

Click to Listen:

Download/Play Audio File

With President Obama reported to have told wavering Democratic lawmakers that vote could well determine the success of his presidency, he traveled a few kilometers from the White House to suburban Virginia to make a high visibility public appeal.

The president described the health care debate as being in its final stages after a century of struggle, saying it's about the character of the United States rather than merely the cost of health care for Americans. "So the only question left is this:  Are we going to let the special interests win once again?  Or are we going to make this vote a victory for the American people?," he said.

The legislation the House will vote on is estimated to cost $940 billion over ten years.  But because of savings in some areas, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it could reduce the size of the federal deficit by $138 billion, something the president is hoping will attracting support from wavering Democrats.

In seeking to cover more than 32 million Americans lacking insurance, the measure would establish new insurance exchanges, and require nearly all Americans to obtain insurance or pay a fine.  It would also bar insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and would limit their ability to impose large rate increases.

Just before the president spoke, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared before reporters on Capitol Hill to voice confidence, saying Congress was a day closer to making history for the American people. "Accountability for the insurance companies, affordability for the middle class, accessibility for many, many more people," she said.

In his speech, President Obama referred again to criticisms Republicans have made of the health-care reform legislation, separate versions of which were approved last year by the House and Senate.

Republicans assert the legislation will lead to federal government control of the health care system, higher costs and deficits and debt, and bitterly complain about Democrat's plan to pass the Senate-approved bill without a direct vote, by packaging it with a separate measure of changes.  

"I know the president is doing the hard sell on this bill, telling Democrat members that his presidency is on the line, but this vote is not about saving a presidency or saving a politician, this is about doing the right thing for the American people," said House minority leader John Boehner.

Republicans also bitterly oppose the Democrat's plan to avoid Republican obstruction in a later Senate vote on the modified package with a process that would allow approval with a simple majority of 51 votes.

President Obama is telephoning Democrats to urge them to vote for the legislation, as Democratic leaders work furiously to assure the 216 vote margin required for passage.  

Some Democrats who voted against the original House bill last December said they will support the president this time, while others who voted for it last year said they may vote "no" on Sunday.

Pelosi has faced opposition from fiscally-conservative Democrats still nervous about the longer-term cost of the legislation, and opposition from some her in party who assert that language in the measure does not go far enough to ensure a continuing ban on the use of federal funds for abortion.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

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.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More