Obama Continues Push for Health Care Reform at N.C., Virginia Events
Speaking before crowds at a North Carolina high school gym and a Virginia supermarket on Wednesday, President Obama said that his health reform plan would offer greater consumer protections against health insurer practices that he said "run roughshod over consumers," Politico reports (Lee, Politico, 7/29).
He criticized opponents of Democrats' health reform plans, saying that critics "need to stop scaring everybody." He added that "a lot of chatter out there hasn't focused on â¦ the fact that if you've got health insurance, then the reform we're proposing will â¦ provide you more stability and more security."
Obama said, "the truth is, we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn't always work well for you" (Oliphant, Los Angeles Times, 7/30).
According to Obama, "We're the wealthiest county on Earth, and for us to be the only developed nation where people cannot count on health care is shameful." He also said that "we've got to overcome the understandable skepticism that somehow Washington can never get anything right" (Wilson, Washington Post, 7/30).
Obama proposed several "health insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable" (Sidoti, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/29). The protections would:
- Prohibit annual or lifetime coverage caps;
- Prohibit higher premiums based on sex;
- Prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions;
- Prohibit insurers from dropping members who develop serious illnesses;
- Require a cap on annual out-of-pocket expenses (Politico, 7/29);
- Allow children to stay on a family health plan until age 26;
- Require insurers to fully cover regular checkups and preventive screenings; and
- Guarantee insurance policy renewal as long as premiums are paid in full.
As for the cost of health reform, Obama said, "You've been hearing these figures that say it's going to cost a trillion dollars for this new health care program." He said, "People think, 'Well, we can't afford that,'" adding, "Just to keep it in perspective, that's a lot less than we spend on the war [in] Iraq" (Hall/Jackson, USA Today, 7/29).
Jonathan Cowan, president of the think tank Third Way, said that Obama "literally grabbed the debate and yanked in a new and historic direction so that the health care debate is fundamentally about the middle class," adding that Obama has made the debate "not only about the uninsured, but â¦ equally about Americans who have insurance (but) feel that it's unstable" (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "This new sales pitch is more notable for what it doesn't say than what it does." He added, "What happened to the promises that their proposal won't increase health care costs, won't add to the deficit, won't increase taxes on middle-class families and small businesses, won't put government between doctors and patients, won't force anyone to lose their current health coverage, won't kill jobs, won't promote taxpayer-funded abortion or won't cut Medicare?" (Silva, Los Angeles Times, 7/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.