President Obama, determined as ever on his top domestic priority, has been using every opportunity and tool available to pressure Congress for legislative approval.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last few months. We’re now closer to health care reform than we ever had been before,” Obama said during his hour-long question and answer session at AARP headquarters. “I’m confident that we can do the right thing.”
Obama has outlined proposals, but left it up to Congress to do most of the heavy lifting. Ultimately, his goal is to make legislation that expands coverage to 50 million people without insurance, while limiting exploding costs in the nation’s $2.4 trillion health care system.
Though he wants the House and Senate to pass the legislation before their month-long August break, Representative Mike Ross of Arkansas, speaking for the Blue Dog Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, noted that the agreement calls for the panel to begin debating the bill later Wednesday (July 29) but for no vote by the full House until after the approaching congressional recess.
During his teleconference arranged by AARP on Tuesday, July 28, Obama said that his goal of reform is to end waste and inefficiency in a system that provides poor value and threatens to drain the federal budget. “The more we can reduce those unnecessary costs in health care, the more money we have to provide people with the necessary care. This is pretty straightforward, it’s pretty logical,” he said.
“If you’ve got health care, the only thing we’re going to do is…reform the insurance companies so they can’t cheat you,” Obama stated.
Many Republican and Democrat opponents say that the Democratic reform plan being pressed by Obama would be too costly and expand the government’s role in health care without providing long-term stability.
Obama distinguished that the United States spends $6,000 more per person on health care annually than any other industrialized nation, yet Americans are no healthier.
“We shouldn’t be paying 50 percent more, 75 percent more than other countries that are just as healthy or healthier than we are,” replied Obama.