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Obama Says Congress Must Act to Fix 'Broken' Health-Care System

By Michael A. Fletcher
Stepping up his push to enact legislation to reform the nation's health-care system, President Obama today declared, "The status quo is broken," and he warned that the current system could eventually collapse if nothing is done to control spiraling costs.

With Congress poised to debate sweeping health-care legislation in the coming weeks, Obama warned that if "we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy."

Speaking in his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said that the fast-rising cost of health care is placing an unsustainable burden on personal budgets, small businesses and the federal government.

"Within a decade we'll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care -- and we'll keep getting less for our money," he said. "That's why fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve; it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer."

Obama said that health-care reform can address rising costs by reining in profiteering by health insurers and providers, stoking competition in the industry, and creating a mechanism for building on the models of efficient care that exist around the country.

The president also reiterated his pledge to enact costly reforms while not adding to the nation's already soaring budget deficit. Just how that would happen remains to be seen.

"We'll work with Congress to fully cover the costs through rigorous spending reductions and appropriate additional revenues," Obama said. "We'll eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in our health care system."

As Congress prepares to take up the health-care debate later this month, critics of the reform package have been ramping up their opposition. Lawmakers' first draft of the measure, which emerged last night, requires all Americans to have health insurance, while subsidizing the cost for lower-income people.

Employers would have to offer coverage, or pay into a fund that provides coverage. Obama has said he would like to see exemptions to the mandates for small businesses and low-income people.

Meanwhile, many Democrats -- including Obama -- favor creation of a publicly run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers -- something vehemently opposed by many Republicans and their conservative supporters.

Obama has been careful not to close off options for implementing a plan that would control costs and provide health coverage to most of the 46 million Americans who do not have it now.

In a meeting with lawmakers earlier this week, Obama refused to rule out taxing employer-sponsored health insurance -- an idea he had ridiculed during the presidential campaign. He also indicated that he would consider a requirement that every American have health coverage. During the campaign, he had also dismissed that idea.

"All across America, our families are making hard choices when it comes to health care," Obama said today. "Now it's time for Washington to make the right ones. It's time to deliver."

Posted at 6:00 AM ET on Jun 6, 2009  | Category:  Health Care
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A majority of physicians and and Americans, 62% or more support a single- payer national health insurance or a "Medicare for All" plan. As long as we continue to rely on private for-profit insurers, universal coverage will be unaffordable. Their administrative costs consume nearly one-third of our health care dollars. We will never have enough money to provide everyone with decent care until we eliminate private insurance with it's enormous waste and inadequate coverage. We will never be able to keep costs down and get the care we need as long as the greedy insurance companies stand between us and our doctors.

Every other industrialized country has some form of universal health care. None uses profitmaking, investor-owned insurance companies like ours to provide health care.

We have an American system that works. It's Medicare. It's not perfect, but Americans who use it are a lot happier than those with private insurance.

Top Ten Reasons For Enacting a Single Payer Healthcare System:

1. Access to healthcare for everyone, period.
2. Portability. Lose or change your job, your health coverage goes with you.
3, uniform benefits. No Cadillac plans for the wealthy and moped plans for everyone else. One level of comprehensive care for everyone no matter what size your wallet.
4. Encourages preventive healthcare, which lowers individual and societal cost in the overutilization of emergency rooms or the spread of communicable disease.
5.No restriction in choice of physician.
6.Ending insurance industry interference with care. No denial or exorbitant cost of patients with pre-existing conditions.
7. Reducing administrative waste. One third of every dollar in California goes for paperwork, such as denying care, and profits, compare to about 3% under Medicare, a single-payer universal system.
8. Cost Savings. Single-payer would produce the savings to cover everyone largely by using existing resources without the waste.
9. Common sense budgeting. The public system sets fair reimbursements applied equally to all providers while assuring all needed healthcare is delivered, and uses it's clout to negotiate volume discounts for prescription drugs and medical equipment.
10. Public oversight. The public sets the policies and administers the system, not high priced CEO's meeting in secret and making decisions based on what inflates their compensation packages, or stock wealth, or company profits.
These facts were quoted from www.cainurse.org; and www.nnoc.net.


Posted by: MaggiePi | June 8, 2009 11:55 PM

CONGRESS must FIRST address the Soc.Sec. deficit that they have caused! Seniors are about to become the LARGEST voting bloc in the history of this country! The Grey panthers vaguely addressed our needs then,but it will be a paraphrase of an Ann Murray song which best describes the situation1 "We are Seniors ,HEAR US ROAR" Ignore us,Congress,AT YOUR PERIL!

Posted by: asclepious2 | June 8, 2009 8:30 PM

There should be more discussion of how to reduce the cost of health service before any plan is written. How much could be saved by reforming our tort law system. That would avoid doctors performing unnecessary tests and procedures as a defensive action. The cost of malpractice insurance would be substantially reduced.

Posted by: thegor | June 8, 2009 3:50 PM

To have any meaningful discussion about healthcare reform, the HMOs and the health insurance companies must be excluded. The fox must not be allowed at a discussion about designing the safety features of a hen-house.

Posted by: alzach | June 8, 2009 2:20 PM

"How can we possibly deny anyone in America, especially American Citizens, the right to life saving medical procedures when they need them?"
*****************************
If you think this is happening now, I can assure you that it will happen a lot more often with Universal Health Care. You can count on your elderly parent or grandparent being either denied care outright or being made to sit and wait until they slide downhill and die. Keeping health costs down DEPENDS on the ability of government to ration health care. The young and healthy will be fine..........I will be fine (for now). I am 72, have no ongoing medical issues, and take no prescription medications of any kind, I take Aleve for my osteoarthritis but no other over the counter meds either.

Health care would be a good deal less expensive if this country would get tough and stop treating illegal aliens in our county health clinics.....those are for Americans without the means to afford insurance. Don't tell me that doesn't happen, when questioned, county health people will tell you they purposely don't ask about status. Then there are the people who use emergency rooms frivolously and don't pay the bills.....we don't need to be paying for this either and we all do in increased costs to cover those who don't pay.

If the government wants to do something let them insure the truly poor and uninsured and leave the rest of us ALONE PLEASE. How the hell far do you want this nanny state crap to go?

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 8, 2009 1:56 AM

When we no longer have to pay private companies and their executives "protection money" to insure our personal well being,
95 percent of Americans will have health care.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | June 7, 2009 11:45 PM

When will congress and President Obama realize that most WORKING Americans do not want universal health care or the government having anything to do with health care? Obama is once again buying votes with tax dollars of hard working Americans. We don't want your tiny battery powered cars or your socialized medicine. People in Europe die every day because socialized medicine plans won't allow the use of expensive cancer drugs or they are turned down for procedures because the patient is too old spend the money on. If our health care system is so flawed why do world leaders come to the USA to have vital medical procedures done? People in England and France wait months for needed surgery and sometimes die while waiting. Leave our health care system alone. Get off the backs of working Americans. Quit funding groups like ACORN with tax dollars to buy the votes of non-working minority voters. There are more TEA parties to come and they are not just about taxes. They are about ending a corrupt government and about freedom for the American public from oppressive government regulations. The federal government has no right to be involved with health care, education, farming, or many other things it has usurped over many years. Sooner or later patriots will band together to reverse the take over by goverment.

Posted by: good_angel | June 7, 2009 7:34 PM

Should congress push through another failed attempt to change something as monstrous as nationalizing health care in our country the same way the stimulus package was thrust through? Lets see, has this administration not learned its lesson with bailout money that will take decades to pay down? Spend, spend, spend....Where is all of this money coming from the health care reform?

Posted by: Rhonda5 | June 7, 2009 6:08 PM

As an afterthought, perhaps we should tell those in Congress that we would be delighted to look at a universal health care package as long as every member of Congress is covered by exactly the same program as John Q. Public.

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 7, 2009 5:32 PM

Government health care? Would this be run as well as social security, medicare and medicaid? We are supposed to trust people who are running the social programs we already have over a cliff?

If government wants to "fix" health care, I would suggest they tell us first how many of these people who are uninsured are illegal aliens, how many are young people who are choosing not to insure (gambling on their good health) and how many are REALLY unable to afford insurance. I don't want to see any government insurance until I see a study and as far as I know, the government wants to do this on a "just trust us" basis.

Socialized medicine doesn't work well in any other country.........why would we think it would work any better here.

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 7, 2009 5:28 PM

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Howard Dean and the Democrats are correct.

"a" (Toothy, Robust, Affordable, Immediate, Triggerless, Medicare-Like ) "public health insurance option” (For All Who Want It) “is more important than bipartisanship, and Democrats should pass health-care legislation that includes the option with 51 votes if necessary."

"Democrats should have "no intention" of working with Republicans if it's not the strongest possible legislation that could be passed with a simple majority." (Howard Dean)

CONTACT CONGRESS and your representatives Now! And tell them you demand ALL of the minimum requirements above. This is the time for maximal, toothy, sustained pressure on Congress to get this done. Be creative. But be relentless.

This is what WE THE PEOPLE gave the Democrats all that power to do for ALL of us.

In medicine and healthcare there is only one acceptable standard. And that standard is the HIGHEST level of EXCELLENCE! you can provide for everyone. Nothing less is acceptable for a precious human life.

And the White House is right. "Good health care reform is essentially good economic policy." (Christina Romer)

BUT HEAR ME WELL! Just as I warned you before 911. Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And before the US and Global economic crisis.

I must tell you now that healthcare reform is now a critical matter of NATIONAL SECURITY. A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) was yet another loud WAKE-UP! call. And there is MUCH! worse lurking, and poised to strike at any moment. Working against the clock, many of us have known this for a long time now. And this is why we have been pushing so hard for so long without fully saying why. But Congress and the American people are literally running out of time.

I’ll tell you more later. But get healthcare reform done NOW!.

God Bless All Of You

jacksmith -- WORKING CLASS

Posted by: JackSmith1 | June 7, 2009 5:07 PM

The corporate opposition to universal health care has already drafted their version of what they want. They knew they couldn't have everything so in the face of united democracy in the house and senate, they have relented, somewhat.
Why should American workers and citizens accept anything less than something equal to the the superior and more efficient systems available in Canada and Europe?
Being denied the right to health care has caused the death and misery of millions.
Insurance corporation and drug company lies in the past have made their proposals
unbelievable in the present.
Now is the time to move into the 21 century in America.

Posted by: seemstome | June 7, 2009 11:59 AM

We should never lose sight of the fact that this issue defines us as a nation.

How strongly do we believe in "life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness"

Do we believe they are God given?

Do we believe these words?

Do they mean anything?

Do the memories and the honor of the people who died to preserve them for us mean anything?

LIFE!

How can we possibly deny anyone in America, especially American Citizens, the right to life saving medical proceedures when they need them?

How can we possibly think of screwing over sick and dying Americans by bankrupting them at the same time?

Why aren't we outraged that our tax dollars are being spent on gold plated flying turkeys like the F22 rather than on providing health care so Americans don't die 20 or 30 years before their time, in unbearable pain so far beyond torture that words can't even come close to descrbing it?

Each F22 costs a third of a Billion Dollars, the goverment wants to buy a few hundred, and they don't work in bad weather or war.

We waste our tax money on lots of hyper-expensive weapons systems that the pentagon doesn't even want, and the defense department is the most bloated and screwed-up part of the entire government, and that's saying a lot.

The current situation is completely insane.

This isn't North Korea.

We shouldn't be spending our country's money on offensive weapons systems while our people are starving to death.

Its scary, isn't it?

We need to re-work the federal budget to make it less nuts.

We can have a much better "social safety net" for the poor, for the ill, and for the old.

We're not North Korea.

We shouldn't think or act nuts like they do.

We've got to get our priorities straight.

Universal Health Care Is A Right!

It right there under, "LIFE", in "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"

Its our God Given Right.

Its the most important one, the one caled out first, in the Declaration of Independence Americans.

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" IS America.

Without Universal Health Care, 48 Million Americans are put at cruel and unfair risk of losing all three, and far too many already have.

Its time for Universal Health Care.

Its the American Thing To Do.


Posted by: UniversalHealthCareNow | June 7, 2009 11:19 AM

Conservatives are quick to point out the inefficiency of the federal government - unless we are talking about the Pentagon. If we have the best military - they why can we not have the best health care. .......


http://thefiresidepost.com/2009/03/24/if-you-like-the-pentagon-you-will-really-love-national-health-care/

Posted by: glclark4750 | June 7, 2009 9:45 AM

My message to congress--give us what you've got! A public health care option. People can keep their present insurance or buy into the same plan you have.

The GOP will try to trash that. Look at the Medicare drug plan they passed with its donut hole and massive increase in drug costs. That was just a license for rich drug and insurance companies to put their hands in the public's and the government's pockets.

Sixty percent of personal bankruptcies are caused by medical costs. Forty to fifty million are now uninsured. And Republicans are shouting, "No government plan which rations care." What do you call exclusions because of existing illness, canceling coverage after someone gets sick, and other insurance tactics. I call it rationing, cherry-picking only the healthy people.

Give us what you've got, a public option. Control costs and cover everybody.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | June 7, 2009 7:30 AM

I pray that our President understands that overspending taxpayer dollars for any project (stimulus, GM, AIG, Fanny May, Freedy Mac, healthcare, wars, education, windmills, solar panels etc.) without dollar for dollar revenue for those projects will weaken our economy, because Americans know from experience that any household that overspends its income will have to borrow to fund the overspending. And if the costs and amounts of borrowing continue to increase, that household must get an additional source of income or go bankrupt.

I also pray that our President understands that as higher gas prices go, the higher the costs of all goods will go, while the lower tax revenues will go for the federal, state and local agencies which depend on more gallons of gas being sold not less gallons.

Finally I pray that our President has good intentions rather than evil intentions for our economy. An evil intention would be to spend money on borrowed money without caring or planning for an equitable result.
Fox example, If GM never makes a profit in one year or two years and we continue to bail them out, the intention could be evil because the union workers came first and the well being of the American economy came second. Thus taxpayers were deceived, because no one can justify spending tens of billions of borrowed taxpayer dollars to fund 20-40 thousand labor union jobs, while 300,000 to 400,000 jobs are lost each month.

Posted by: Chuck8764 | June 7, 2009 5:02 AM

personally I think the government should controll health care or atleast make shure everyone that needs it have it witch would be everybody...I don't know about you, the reader, but personaly I'm a 16 year old who's family is struggling to survive... my house went into forcloser last year, and some how we still made to much money to qwalify for health care...what kinda B.S. is that? we were barlly able to pullout of forcloser thanks to the help of our wonderful realiter...I mean we are actualy trying though we don't have a big house with a massive pool and we don't hire gaurdners and all that unnessisary stuff...my dad was laidoff 3-4 years ago...instead of falling down and complaining he got up and started a tech support buisness...he now opperates a 500 square mile network to get people in the country internet... he works hard yet we are still struggling and we still have no medical coverage...my mom can't work because she is always sick...at one time she needed surgury or she would dye and for some reason she still had trouble getting covered...the US econimy may be screwed up right now and we may be in the middle of a war that we don't need to be in... but what is Amirica supposed to stand for?...we are supposed to stand for life liberty and the pursuite of happiness...my mom is hardly ever happy because she is constantly worried about getting sick and being hospitolized...and life when she was given limited Emergancy coverage or what ever the heck it was they where doing everything in their power to find some way she couldn't have it...how is that showing she has the right to live? when did freedom become struggling to aford to pay for the hospitol bills?...and what happened to Equil rights?...when are the middle and lower class going to get a break...they are the majority...we should be the ones getting tax breaks...we should be the ones with health coverage...we should be the ones that matter... when the majority mo longer matters we are no longer following the principles our founders set out...we are no longer a government bye the people for the people and to the people...the only good man in the government is President Obama...besides him all our polititians want is their prostotution rings and unnesisarily high pay checks that could be used to help fund health care programs...Obama is agreat sign of hope for the future...he will not be able to fixour probablems in a few days but he is leading us on the right track...if you support my views then please in your comments please just say, "kudeo's to THE_MASTELLER" or something along those lines...thank you for your time...and please for give my spelling

Posted by: THE_MASTELLER | June 7, 2009 4:25 AM

No matter whether you are pro or con, those who make final judgements on Obama now are naive. Especially naive are those who draw conclusions based on the current state of the economy or medical care. The current problems in these areas have been festering for more than a decade. The result of any changes will be understood years from now, not in days, weeks, or months.

Posted by: relmasian | June 7, 2009 2:22 AM

http://thesteadydrip.blogspot.com/2009/05/please-get-this-straight-aka-obama.html

Please get this straight:

Hawaiian officials have not validated AKA OBAMA’s place of birth. What they have said is that they “have the original document” on file. They haven’t offered a clue as to what information is in that document nor have they said what kind of birth certificate is on file; a conventional birth certificate issued by a hospital with a doctor’s signature or the kind of birth certificate issued by Hawaii on the basis of an affidavit? The Hawaiian officials are not part of a cover-up. They can not legally validate what is on that document without a court order or permission from “our” Chicago con-man.

Posted by: AristotleTheHun | June 6, 2009 11:44 PM

We have a medical insurance model wherein private companies legally skim profits from public health care spending. And private health care spends millions on political lobbying to protect it's interests - not yours.

When government pays health care providers directly in a system designed to cut out the middle man and deliver the most care for the least money - 95% of Americans will have health care.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | June 6, 2009 10:40 PM

All I can say is that I'm a laid-off guy in my 50s and will probably never have a decent job again. Hopefully the VA will help me with medical care now that I'm broke. (They wouldn't when I had a good income.) And my wife... well, maybe one of us can get on at Wal-Mart and get really crappy health insurance after a year. Three more months of COBRA subsidy left. After that we're screwed. We work hard all our lives and this is where we end up. And still the RepubliCONS spout their nonsense. Sheesh! Liberbiberarian nonsense, yah, yah, yah.

Posted by: roblimo | June 6, 2009 9:00 PM

POTUS has contempt for the free markets. He despises those that have been successful in the private sector, both those companies that make money and the individual employees who have prospered by working in the private sector. He despises the fact that your choices represent freedom. Under the guise of "reform" he shows contempt for your having choices by proclaiming that only government can provide the answer and Congress goes right along with the deceit by forcing citizens to buy coverage. I refuse to be forced to pay any money for those who claim to be American yet hate America as they abdicate their individual responsibility to provide for themselves and their children and turn over these critical decisions to a government bureaucrat.

Posted by: yl1210 | June 6, 2009 8:06 PM

In New Jersey, residents, seeking or renewing their driver licenses, must produce the LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Will someone explain why Mr. Obama will not do the same in order to occupy the most important office our country has to bestow?

Posted by: Amos2 | June 6, 2009 7:55 PM

The unemployment rate under Barack Obama has gone from 7.6% in January to 9.4% in May and climbing! The US under the Obamanomics and dems carefully crafted stimulus has lost more jobs in the shortest span of time since the numbers have been tracked starting in 1948! More industries have closed under Obama than any President in the history of the USA! The walking, talking ego maniac who parties more than he works, spends your tax dollar like Luis XIV and both he and Marie Antoinette Obama have giant chips on their shoulders are giving you the finger every day! In some states double digit unemployment approaches FDR levels of above 20% and has been sustained despite Obama's yakking! Health care is a straw man argument used by the Obamabots to make you think the same government that can't tell you where trillions went, drove up medical costs under medicare and medicaid can suddenly give you the kind of health care they have in Cuba! You got what you voted for! Now figure out how you're gonna survive four years of the done nothing from Chicago!

Posted by: vgailitis | June 6, 2009 7:41 PM

Is no one else complaining right now about the fact that the government is shelling out many of our tax $$ to subsidize COBRA payments for workers who have lost their jobs? Where are many of those $$ going? Right into profits for health insurance companies! This is dumb IMHO! Why not form a government-run entity right now, or at the very least, a non-profit insurance company, and funnel the unemployed into it? I don't mind my tax $$ helping those who have lost their jobs to keep their health insurance, but I surely don't want to subsidize insurance company profits with my tax $$!!

Posted by: ksbd | June 6, 2009 7:36 PM

Does this mean the government pays our doctors and we do not have to anymore???

Posted by: pegaleen78 | June 6, 2009 7:01 PM

He wants to do away with medicare and medicaid. He will come up with Obama-aid healthcare....

Posted by: pegaleen78 | June 6, 2009 6:59 PM

I'm guessing Government Motors will be in charge of healthcare too.

Posted by: cschotta1 | June 6, 2009 6:57 PM

I do not know how you bash Medicare and Medicaid and then propose a program based almost exactly on those failed models. It does not make sense. Let's hope we get some more sustainability out of the new health care programs proposed by Congress.

Posted by: hz9604 | June 6, 2009 4:53 PM

I see . . . is this another "fix it immediately or we're all doomed"? Somebody had better slow down this destructive government before it devours us all.

Posted by: rplat | June 6, 2009 4:04 PM

Why is the government not speaking in terms of targeting and solving specific problem(s) or issue(s) with our current healthcare system? And why does the government expect 'the people' to believe it has the ability to speak honestly in terms of fiscal responsibility.

Posted by: rbblum | June 6, 2009 3:28 PM

It is interesting to read that Congress is being asked to act on something. It is apparent that Congress has been marginalized in the U.S. and the Constitution is not being followed in its entirety.

What appears to be happening with the appointment of so many Czars is that a government has been created within the government in which the appointed Czars are not answerable to Congress and therefore not to the American people. Yet they have large budgets and staff that we have to assume are being paid for by the American people. Take the proposed Cyber Czar for instance. This position would be vital to the security of the U.S. and the person in charge, apparently, will not be answerable to the Congress and the people of the U.S.

As I watch the ads about the new GM, it appears to me that the new GM will not be just an automobile company and that it may be involved in different forms of construction and in the green energy business. Yet Americans have apparently accepted that their President has the right to interfere directly in the workings of the free market place with authority to hire and fire and to change the rules regarding preferred stock and common stock.

One must wonder about the state of the American Constitution.

Posted by: CalP | June 6, 2009 3:19 PM

Bubbette1-
Debt counseling is just another tool of predatory creditors to keep debtors in debt. America's problem is disparity of wealth, overcompensation of non-producers, and undercompensation of producers.

Liberatarianism is great in theory, but in reality it just doesn't work, because it unfortunately gets manipulated in ways that consolidate wealth and power into the hands of a reckless predator class. Furthermore, today's republican base is just libertarianism minus the liberty (fun stuff).

The responsiblity of the people in a democracy is to sieze their right to govern, especially to overwhelm the selfish, unpatriotic, tyrannical forces of rich puppeteers.

As for health care reform. Read what people the doctors, nurses, and practicioners in the trenches have to say:


http://www.pnhp.org/

Posted by: rooster54 | June 6, 2009 1:20 PM

If you would like to control spending and balance the budget vote out the Spendocrats and support fiscally responsible candidates in 2010. Support
Ron Paul and HR 1207 to audit the Federal Reserve. No more spending, no more bail-outs, stop printing money. Balance the budget then discuss how we can address more spending. Maybe we should send the Congress, Senate and President to mandatory debt counseling.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | June 6, 2009 12:28 PM

If you would like to help pressure Congress to pass single payer health care please join our voting bloc at:
http://www.votingbloc.org/Health_Bloc.php

Posted by: letsgobuffalo | June 6, 2009 7:18 AM

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