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

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid