FactCheck: Obama's health care plan

July 24, 2009 7:12:04 PM PDT
The president's hope for prompt action on health care reform is waning. Even as the president is stepping-up pressure to pass the legislation, there are clear signs that a bill will not come up for a vote by the administration's August deadline. President Obama is pushing hard, but even lawmakers in his own party are in no hurry.

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President Obama met in private at the White House on Friday with Senate Leader Harry Reid, D-Navada, and Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus, D-Montana. He's trying to get Reid to move health care legislation faster and he's trying to get Baucus to agree to a government-backed insurance option.

At a rally to save a San Francisco health care clinic from budget cuts, 55-year-old Michael Goldstein admitted he's among the 40 million Americans who have no health insurance.

"I have some dental problems going on right now that I can't address at all," said Goldstein.

The part-time paralegal says he can't afford it.

At the White House on Friday the president pressed affordability with the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, but one of the policy experts who has been helping the administration craft it's health care goals feels the opportunity is slipping away. ABC7 spoke with U.C. Berkeley professor Helen Halpin, Ph.D., from France via the internet.

"I think the president let the congress have way too much rope in coming up with their own bill without providing, I think, the leadership and clear direction that was needed earlier in the process," said Halpin.

Of course the last time around President Clinton was criticized for exerting too much control.

Likely President Obama was reacting to that in allowing Congress to lead, but now that he's stepping in, he's still having problems shaking fears about the cost.

"And the reason I want to emphasis this is because there's been a lot of misinformation out there," said President Obama.

At Wednesday's press conference, he added to that misinformation.

"I'm very worried about federal spending and the steps that we've taken so far have reduced federal spending over the next 10 years by $2.2 trillion, it's not enough..." said President Obama.

Factcheck: It's also not accurate. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which estimates the president's budget will increase spending by $2.7 trillion.

And the president exaggerated the discrepancy between the U.S. and foreign health care costs.

"We here in the United States are spending about $6,000 more than other advanced countries where they're just as healthy," said President Obama.

Factcheck: The U.S. spends nearly $7,000 per person total or $2,500 more than the next highest spending country.

Republicans are seizing on the cost issue and accusing the president of moving too quickly. Goldstein just hopes something can get passed by the end of the year.

"It would take let's say 30 percent of the worries off my mind right now and I could be a far more productive individual, I believe," said Goldstein.

On Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced an agreement to try to reform Medicare by rewarding quality rather than quantity and she called it a giant step forward towards health care reform. The Associated Press is calling the announcement part of a concerted effort to counter the impression that the president's health care legislation is in deep trouble.

Our partners in this Fact Check can be found at FactCheck.org.

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