President Touts Health Care Reform as Key to Economic Recovery
During his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, President Obama said that overhauling the U.S. health care system would positively affect the economy by creating jobs, the AP/Washington Times reports.
Obama said reform would allow aspiring entrepreneurs to stay insured while starting new businesses and hiring workers.
Obama said that "reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American dream again and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again" (Babington, AP/Washington Times, 10/4).
Obama's address came one day after figures were released indicating that the unemployment rate has reached 9.8%, The Hill reports. He said that reform packages under consideration in Congress would bring down health care costs for small businesses, which can pay up to 18% more than large companies for insurance (Zimmermann, The Hill, 10/3).
The president also said that the Senate Finance Committee draft bill would help the economy.
According to Obama, under the bill, small businesses could buy insurance through an exchange "where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans." He added that the government would subsidize insurance for many businesses and individuals (AP/Washington Times, 10/4).
Obama also criticized "partisan efforts" to block reform (The Hill, 10/3).
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) delivered the Republican response to Obama's address, saying that many jobs have been lost since the stimulus package endorsed by Obama and congressional Democrats was enacted early this year.
Also, she said that Democratic health reform efforts are "job killing" proposals and that Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should "help promote policies to get Americans working again" (Burns, Wall Street Journal, 10/4).
Garnering Public Plan Support
Over the last week, Obama and members of his administration have been rallying support for a public plan option in private meetings, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Obama has reached out personally to more than 12 rank-and-file Senate Democrats, while administration officials have held almost daily private meetings at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a public plan option in finalized Senate reform legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring legislation to the chamber floor this month that includes proposals from both the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee reform bill and the Finance Committee bill.Since the more bipartisan bill generated in the Finance Committee does not include a public plan option, Obama is attempting to ensure that it will be considered as part of the final overhaul plan (Levey/Hook, Los Angeles Times, 10/5). 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.