Pres. Obama's speech tries to bring clarity

September 10, 2009 12:12:10 AM PDT
In a prime time address to the nation and a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama outlined his goal of overhauling the nation's health care system. He gave more specifics than he has in the past and said he is willing to compromise. This speech was a critical one for the president as he told Congress the time for bickering is over.

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President Obama outlined a plan that he said would give Americans more stability and security by preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

"It will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it the most," said President Obama. "And insurance companies will be required to cover routine, with no extra charge, routine check-ups and preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.

And he said for those don't have insurance, there will be affordable choices.

"A market place where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices," said President Obama.

He also added that individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance and large companies that don't offer insurance will be required to chip in. He then addressed some of what he called the bogus claims of his critics.

"The best example is the claim that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill of senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable, if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible," said the President.

The president added that another false claim is that his plan would insure illegal immigrants.

"The reforms that I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," said President Obama.

"You lie!" yelled Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina. This evening Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona called on Wilson to apologize.

"Totally disrespectful, no place for it in that setting or any other," said Senator McCain.

Minutes later Wilson did apologize.

The official Republican response to the president's speech was delivered by Louisiana Congressman Charles Boustany, a retired heart surgeon.

"The president had a chance tonight to take government run healthcare off the table, unfortunately he didn't do it," said Boustany.

The Republicans are characterizing the Democratic health care plan as a government take over.

"It creates 53 new government bureaucracies, adds hundreds of billions to our national debt, and raises taxes on job creators by $600 billion," said Boustany.

The dean of U.C. Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Professor Henry Brady, Ph.D., says the Republican response plays into the President's hand.

"They are so focused on the public option as the central problem with this, that it seems to me that eventually it's going to be a very good thing for the President to say 'Okay. If that's so important to you, we'll take that off the table' and then he'll get a lot of the other things that he cares about a lot, including making sure that we have a universal program that covers everybody," said Brady.

Brady also believes Democrats will push this through the Senate using a procedure known as a reconciliation -- which requires just a simple majority and cuts off the possibility of a Republican filibuster. If that happens, expect Republicans to howl.

Related link:
The Obama Health Care Plan

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