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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid