Last evening, President Barack Obama told a joint session of Congress and the American people just how he wants to bring peace of mind to U.S. citizens who have health insurance, and affordable coverage to those who don't. He clearly articulated the three key points of his comprehensive health insurance reform plan:
1] It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance.
2] It will provide insurance to those who don't.
3] And it will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.
After President Obama declared, "The time for bickering is over... Now is the time to deliver," countless people of all political stripes and backgrounds immediately weighed in on the President's plan. Here's a select sampling of how some people -- e.g., medical professionals, politicos, pundits -- think his health insurance reform plan will serve America's individuals, households and small businesses...
"I think it was a very good speech. [Obama] made it quite clear this is a very important priority for him and the American people. He also made it quite clear that he is going to 'call out' those who make false statements and use scare techniques...
"I think he was clear that he wants individual mandates, employer mandates/pay or play, critical insurance reforms including guaranteed issue [of insurance], no pre-existing condition exclusion, [and] some type of meaningful public plan, ... but [he] didn't seem committed to that solution. These are all good." -- Dr. Patty Gabow, M.D., CEO, Denver Health [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]
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"I think they go back to committee, they find out what the Senate [Finance] Committee is going to report, then they hammer a bill out.
"I think this is a president that's under no illusion that he's going to get a lot of Republican support. He may get one Republican senator, if he's lucky, but I think that he's hoping that this talk of fiscal responsibility is going to keep some of those moderate, conservative Democrats with him in the House. He took something from Hillary Clinton, he took something from medical malpractice from the Republicans -- to the disdain of lots of liberal Democrats. So there was something in there for everybody." -- Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]
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"Over the last month, we’ve watched the debate over health insurance reform get off track, thanks to special interests that benefit from the broken insurance system we have now. In his speech today, President Obama dispelled the myths and misunderstandings that have been swirling around this issue. And he brought back into focus how important it is to all Americans that we reform our broken health insurance system...
"We’ve entered a new phase of the debate marked by this historic speech. My colleagues and I are more determined than ever to put the best ideas -- from Democrats and Republicans -- on the table, so we can pass a meaningful health insurance reform bill that lowers costs and improves coverage for Coloradans and all Americans. The time to act is now." -- U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col. [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]
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"Democracy Corps, a nonprofit liberal group, was doing some focus groups tonight with dials, and I was checking in with them as they were doing those. Obviously, most of what [Obama] said was way up with Democrats. And that matters because, ultimately, this is in the hands of the Democrats.
"But he scored very well with independents, as well. And it is those Blue Dog Democrats who care about fiscal issues that he was really speaking to -- both at home and in the hall. And when he said the Bush tax cut, the war in Iraq, and the prescription drug plan exploded the deficit, he was talking to them -- because a lot of them voted for that. So he's going to be able to take them behind a closed door now and say, 'Hey, bud. You jacked up the deficit under the last president. You gotta help me now.' And I think that's going to be a powerful argument behind closed doors. He said it very politely in public tonight." -- Paul Begala, Democratic strategist [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]
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"Tonight, President Obama reminded us of exactly what is at stake in the health care debate, and of why we owe it to the American people to enact reform that makes a meaningful departure from a status quo that isn’t working for families and small businesses." -- U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Col. [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]
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"My sense is he very much endorsed the [Sen. Max] Baucus plan tonight -- the moderate Democratic plan. He had very little to nothing about taxation in here... He didn't come out four-square for the public option. I think this is very much what they're trying to build in the Senate side.
"My sense of the speech is whether it reversed the tide, which I think was the real test. Had he given this speech three months ago, when there was a glow about his presidency, I think he could have swept the country. It was a very well-crafted speech. But now, given everything that's happened, millions of Americans that voted for him will say tonight: 'We saw the Obama we elected.' They will be really excited by this speech. But for a lot of others, I don't think it moved them very much. I'm not sure it will heal the divide. Maybe it will move some of the independents, like Paul [Begala] said. But we're so dug in, I'm not sure it ultimately moved the people he needed to move to reverse the tide." -- David Gergen, senior political analyst [CNN.com, 09/09/2009]
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"I agree with the president that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. The best way to achieve this is by offering a strong public option that will not only bring down rising costs, but will also ensure competition and transparency among private companies within the insurance exchange. No one will be forced into the public option, but they will have that choice as an affordable alternative." -- U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]
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"I think he clearly laid out his objectives. This was his goal. There are two lines here I want to repeat: 'While there remain some significant details to be ironed out...' That's what was missing tonight. The other thing, to the point about the Medicare, he talks about how to reduce the waste and inefficiency in Medicaid and Medicare to pay for most of his plan. And the proposal will cost $900 billion... I think he did not quiet the little anguish that'll go on among those senior citizens.
"Now, the key thing here is he laid out his goals. He laid out his objectives. The details will come from Congress. There's a lot in this thing that could be challenged tonight." -- Ed Rollins, Republican strategist [09/09/2009]
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"Skyrocketing health care costs are breaking the budgets of hard-working families, small businesses and states. Too many Coloradans are one illness away from bankruptcy. President Obama is right: the status quo is unacceptable. Fixing our economy requires responsible, moderate reform that will provide security and stability for those who have health care and access to affordable insurance for those who do not." -- Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat [Denver Business Journal, 09/09/2009]
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"Overall, we support his call for health care reform. I think he showed good leadership on the issue. I think he did a good job on calling on both parties to pass meaningful reform." -- Jeff Korsmo, executive director, Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]
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"It was very clear that [the president] wasn’t just talking to the people in that chamber; he was talking to the people of this country. What I liked about the speech is it really put a blueprint out there for what needs to be done, and he dispelled a lot of the myths surrounding the debate." -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]
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"I've talked to thousands of Minnesotans as I traveled the state during August, and no matter which end of the political spectrum they're on, people want real reform. I think we heard the same message from the president tonight that I have heard from my constituents: Now is the time to fix our broken health insurance system to lower costs, improve quality, and ensure choice of health plans." -- U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]
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"I'm pleased that the president came out tonight and told Americans the three basic goals his plan meets, how it meets those goals, and what it will mean to them. Time is of the essence -- Americans have waited decades and they can wait no longer for reform. The cost is too high for our families, our businesses, our health care providers and our communities to bear any longer." -- U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. [Post-Bulletin, 09/10/2009]
The public is invited to attend a rally on health insurance reform with President Obama this Saturday, Sept. 12, at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis. The event is free and open to the public. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. No ticket is required. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.; program begins at 12:30 p.m.
To read the full text of President Obama's remarks to Congress, go to: http://budurl.com/SupportHealthReform.
In May 2009, shortly after he was told that his illness was terminal, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy [D-Mass.] -- who devoted his 37-year career in the U.S. Senate to championing health care for all -- wrote a letter to President Obama and asked that it be delivered upon his death. To read that letter, referenced during Obama's speech to Congress, go to: http://budurl.com/KennedyLetter.
To read President Obama's full plan for health insurance reform, go to: http://budurl.com/HealthReformPlanFull.
To download a concise, printable version of President Obama's plan [PDF], go to: http://budurl.com/HealthReformPlanPDF.
To learn about HealthierUS, a new national initiative to improve people's lives, prevent and reduce the costs of disease, and promote community health and wellness, go to: http://www.healthierus.gov/.
Want to know exactly how health insurance reform will benefit you? Take the "What's in Reform for You?" quiz: http://budurl.com/RealityCheckQuiz
For information and updates regarding health insurance reform, click on these sources:
* AARP: Myths vs. Facts About Health Care Reform
* American Cancer Society: Access to Health Care
* American Medical Association
* American Nurses Association
* Americans for Stable Quality Care
* CNN.com: Health Care in America
* Doctors for America
* Families USA
* Federation of American Hospitals
* Health Care for America Now!
* Health Insurance Reform and Medicare
* Health Insurance Reform Reality Check
* Kaiser Family Foundation
* Main Street Alliance
* NOW on PBS/Health Care Reform
* Setting the Record Straight
* Urban Institute's Health Policy Center
SOURCES: CNN.com, Denver Business Journal, Post-Bulletin, The White House [photo by Pete Souza]
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