U.S. President Barack Obama told a joint session of the U.S. Congress
Wednesday night that the government's failure to deal with health care
reform has left uninsured citizens "just one accident or illness away
Mr. Obama gave details of a $900 billion proposal that would include a
government-run insurance option to provide competition to private
companies. He said the plan will not add to the size of the U.S. budget
deficit, but will be paid for by eliminating wasteful spending in the
current health care system.
The president said in his speech that he will work with Republicans to address their concerns.
In the Republican response, Representative Charles Boustany, a heart surgeon (from the southern state of Louisiana),
said government-run health care is not the answer. He proposed offering
universal access to coverage, providing incentives for wellness care,
and giving individuals and small businesses the option of banding
together to get a good price on coverage.
Mr. Obama also said he also wants to provide security for people who
already have insurance. His plan would make it illegal for private
insurance companies to deny coverage because of medical history, or to
drop clients or limit their coverage if they get sick.
The president said his plan will require people to carry health
insurance and require businesses to offer it. He said there will be a
hardship waiver for people who cannot afford it. He also promised to
protect Medicaid and Medicare, the government-funded health care
programs for the elderly and disabled.
The president says he will seek common ground with lawmakers in the
weeks ahead and warned opponents of health care reform against
misrepresenting his plan.