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U.S. President Barack Obama says the nation is closer to reforming its health care system than ever before. The president is warning, however, that the insurance industry is fighting hard to stop the process.
President Obama is praising the Senate Finance Committee for passing a health care reform bill in the past week. But in his weekly radio and Internet address, Mr. Obama cautions that much more work needs to be done to complete his planned overhaul of the health care system. "But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost," he said.
The president says the cost of failing to reform health care would devastate the U.S. economy. He warns that inaction would lead to lower salaries, higher unemployment, lower profits and an increased number of people without insurance. "For decades, rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us," he said.
Mr. Obama said the health insurance industry is mounting what he calls "one last fight to save the status quo." "They are filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They are flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they are funding studies designed to mislead the American people," he said.
Even though one Republican Senator on the Finance Committee, Olympia Snowe of Maine, voted for the president's plan, most Republicans remain opposed to it.
In the weekly Republican message, Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas says Mr. Obama's health care reform would mean higher taxes and government interference in private citizens' medical treatment. "The massive health care plans being crafted behind closed doors in Washington will ultimately allow the government to decide what doctors we can see, what treatments the government thinks you deserve, and what medicines you can receive," he said.
Whatever reform plan emerges from the various House and Senate committees would need to pass both houses of Congress before going to Mr. Obama for his signature.