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Universal Health Care for America

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Although final Congressional action is still many months away, several House and Senate committees this week are holding hearings on health care reform - and the costs associated with it. The nation spent $2.4 trillion on health care in 2008, and yet 46 million Americans have no health coverage at all.

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As policymakers consider an overhaul of the U.S. health care system, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) strongly urges them to adhere to pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules. Given our large and growing debt levels, all new health care spending should be offset both within a ten-year window and beyond. Health care costs represent the single largest threat for the budget—increasing the government’s unfunded health care liabilities would be a move in the wrong direction.


"Medicare and Medicaid are on track to consume an ever-increasing share of the federal budget and if we don’t control their costs, they will lead to economically crippling deficits," said Maya MacGuineas, President of CRFB.


"Health care reform must reduce these costs, not increase them." The Committee is pleased that President Obama proposed deficit-neutral health care reform as part of his FY 2010 budget and is encouraged by the various proposals being floated to limit the employer health care exclusion,

make Medicare premiums more progressive, institute payment reforms, and root out wasteful and unnecessary health care spending.


At the same time, we worry that Congress may feel pressure to waive PAYGO in order to expedite the passage of a reform bill, based upon arguments that greater savings will accrue beyond the budget window, or that health care reform is too important to pay for. "Given the grim fiscal reality we face, however, the Committee believes distant savings are simply too risky to rely on," said MacGuineas.


"We now live in an era of trillion dollar deficits,” MacGuineas explained. "If health care costs continue to grow at this rate, there may be no end in sight. The last thing we need is to make the long-term situation worse by piling on more debt. If health care reform is worth having, it is worth paying for."

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Guest Human_*

What type of costs are You trying to control?


You are typing in generalities with no specifics.



As policymakers consider an overhaul of the U.S. health care system, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) strongly urges them to adhere to pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting rules. Given our large and growing debt levels, all new health care spending should be offset both within a ten-year window and beyond. Health care costs represent the single largest threat for the budget—increasing the government’s unfunded health care liabilities would be a move in the wrong direction.


"Medicare and Medicaid are on track to consume an ever-increasing share of the federal budget and if we don’t control their costs, they will lead to economically crippling deficits," said Maya MacGuineas, President of CRFB.


"Health care reform must reduce these costs, not increase them." The Committee is pleased that President Obama proposed deficit-neutral health care reform as part of his FY 2010 budget and is encouraged by the various proposals being floated to limit the employer health care exclusion,

make Medicare premiums more progressive, institute payment reforms, and root out wasteful and unnecessary health care spending.


At the same time, we worry that Congress may feel pressure to waive PAYGO in order to expedite the passage of a reform bill, based upon arguments that greater savings will accrue beyond the budget window, or that health care reform is too important to pay for. "Given the grim fiscal reality we face, however, the Committee believes distant savings are simply too risky to rely on," said MacGuineas.


"We now live in an era of trillion dollar deficits,” MacGuineas explained. "If health care costs continue to grow at this rate, there may be no end in sight. The last thing we need is to make the long-term situation worse by piling on more debt. If health care reform is worth having, it is worth paying for."

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  • 1 month later...
Guest The White House

The Vice President and I just met with leaders from the House of Representatives and received their commitment to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill by July 31.


We also have an unprecedented commitment from health care industry leaders, many of whom opposed health reform in the past. Monday, I met with some of these health care stakeholders, and they pledged to do their part to reduce the health care spending growth rate, saving more than two trillion dollars over the next ten years -- around $2,500 for each American family. Then on Tuesday, leaders from some of America's top companies came to the White House to showcase innovative ways to reduce health care costs by improving the health of their workers.


Now the House and Senate are beginning a critical debate that will determine the health of our nation's economy and its families. This process should be transparent and inclusive and its product must drive down costs, assure quality and affordable health care for everyone, and guarantee all of us a choice of doctors and plans.


Health care reform can't come soon enough. We spend more on health care than any country, but families continue to struggle with skyrocketing premiums and nearly 46 million are without insurance entirely. It is a priority for the American people and a pillar of the new foundation we are seeking to build for our economy.


We'll continue to keep you posted about this and other important issues.


Thank you,

Barack Obama


P.S. If you'd like to get more in-depth information about health reform and how you can participate, be sure to visit



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Guest Dorothy

What is it about extreme Conservatives that they do not want to do what Jesus would do? I can't imagine Jesus saying, "So sorry you lost your job and can't go to the doctor. Hope you don't get sick or have an accident. If you do, tough it out!"

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Guest HUMAN_*

There already is Health Care for the Undocumented in Virginia, Three month waiting list for an appointment for a dentist.

From what I've seen with my own eyes Universal Health Care in this country IS a Disaster waiting to happen.



Here is an alternative; get the insurance to STOP cherry picking, no more discriminating against people with Pre-Existing Conditions. The government can give the insurance companies tax breaks, and help the insurance companies by paying for part of the cost in accepting people with pre-existing conditions.

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World Health Organization’s Ranking of the Most Effective Health Systems


1. France

2. Italy

3. San Marino

4. Andorra

5. Malta

6. Singapore

7. Spain

8. Oman

9. Austria

10. Japan

11. Norway

12. Portugal

13. Monaco

14. Greece

15. Iceland

16. Luxembourg

17. Netherlands

18. United Kingdom

19. Ireland

20. Switzerland

21. Belgium

22. Colombia

23. Sweden

24. Cyprus

25. Germany

26. Saudi Arabia

27. United Arab Emirates

28. Israel

29. Morocco

30. Canada

31. Finland

32. Australia

33. Chile

34. Denmark

35. Dominica

36. Costa Rica

37. United States of America

38. Slovenia

39. Cuba

40. Brunei

41. New Zealand

42. Bahrain

43. Croatia

44. Qatar

45. Kuwait

46. Barbados

47. Thailand

48. Czech Republic

49. Malaysia

50. Poland


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Guest Human_*

JT under Universal Health Care? YOU CAN'T SUE A DOCTOR IF HE/SHE MAKES A MISTAKE, and that Does include Hospitals.


The Devil is in the details. :)


I want ALL of us to win. I like the insurance companies about as much

As I like Osama Bin Laden.


But I don't want ALL of us from going from BAD to WORSE. Universal Health Care IS TORT REFORM.

We are all going to get hit by this. For God Sakes!!! Use what god gave you "Your Mind".


Right now you ARE healthy JT, you haven't been through the health care system, and remember this little conversation that we are having when the doctors make a mistake on you.


Jt and when you do go through it, and they mess up on you? DON"T even think of complaining after wards "Man".


Be a robot, don't think. The democrats Will love you. That Adorable list that you posted, you are NOT looking at how they came up with the formula as to the Rankings.


LOL Do you honestly think that the lawyers I'm getting together to go after the second Spending Bill are doing it cause they love you all or me?


It's the Money.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Siebert

The Obama White House is preparing drastic cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. Obama's budget calls for $300 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over ten years. (The combined budget for Medicare and Medicaid totalled $682 billion in 2008.)

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Brian Cook

Rep. Pete Stark, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, today released the following statement on the analysis of H.R. 3200 by the Lewin Group:


"The Lewin Group is paid to produce estimates favorable to each client’s position. As a wholly owned subsidiary of UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest private insurance company, the Lewin Group’s so-called 'analysis' is suspect. The Heritage Foundation got the study they paid for, but it is pure fiction.


"The Congressional Budget Office found that H.R. 3200 increases employer-sponsored insurance and less than 10 million people would choose the public health insurance option by 2019."


For more information on how the Congressional Budget Office's estimates contradict the biased analysis done by the Lewin Group, please view the following fact sheet:


The Lewin Group assumes that people would choose their health insurance plans based solely on the cost of coverage. The Congressional Budget Office states that substantial research shows that price is not the only determinant of coeverage choice when options are available. People choose based on provider network, coverage standards, ease of administration, familiarity, and a host of other reasons not specific or solely related to cost.



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Guest Jesse Lee

The Lewin Group has produced one of the most widely cited statistics of the health care debate: That, under a particular version of a public option, the number of people with private, employer-sponsored coverage would decline by more than 100 million.


The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the "usual and customary" doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.




UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) announced today that it has reached an agreement to settle class action litigation related to reimbursement for out-of-network medical services. The agreement resolves class action litigation filed on behalf of the American Medical Association (AMA), health plan members, health care providers and state medical societies.


Under the terms of the proposed nationwide settlement, UnitedHealth Group and its affiliated entities will be released from claims relating to its out-of-network reimbursement policies from March 15, 1994, through the date of final court approval of the settlement. UnitedHealth Group will pay a total of $350 million to fund the settlement for health plan members and out-of-network providers in connection with out-of-network procedures performed since 1994. The agreement contains no admission of wrongdoing. UnitedHealth Group believes it is in the best interests of the company to resolve these matters and move forward.


The company believes that this retrospective settlement, coupled with the prospective agreement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week, resolves the issues that have been raised by the AMA and the New York Attorney General concerning the company’s two physician charge databases.


The company will pay for this settlement with cash on hand, and the accrual will be included in financial results for the Fourth Quarter 2008, as part of operating costs for GAAP accounting.


Mitchell Zamoff, General Counsel, UnitedHealthcare, said, “We are pleased to have reached an agreement that provides closure on these matters.”


Reed V. Tuckson, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group, said, “We are pleased to put these issues behind us so that we can focus on the important work of assisting physicians in their effort to provide the best possible, quality health care to their patients. We are excited about working to meet the needs of physicians and patients to meaningfully enhance both the quality and efficiency in health care delivery.”


The proposed settlement is subject to preliminary and final court approval. In addition, the company has the right to terminate the settlement under certain circumstances, including in the event that a certain number of class members elect to opt-out of the settlement.


An independent administrator will be selected prior to court approval of the settlement agreement, and class members can expect to be notified by mail or publication by that independent administrator.


Lewin's clients include the government and private groups with a variety of perspectives, including the Commonwealth Fund and the Heritage Foundation. A February report contained information that could be used to argue for a single-payer system, the approach most threatening to private insurers, noted Sheils.


In testimony last month to a House committee, Lewin disclosed its affiliation with UnitedHealth and Ingenix in its written submission, but in his oral testimony he did not bring it up until asked, according to a transcript.


Lewin wrote that, like traditional Medicare, the federal program for the elderly, a public plan would do less than private insurers to restrict medical care.


Though the millions of people Lewin was describing would lose their current employer-sponsored coverage, they wouldn't be forced into a government-run health plan, Sheils said in an interview. Rather, they would be able to choose between the government plan and other private options.


"People would indeed lose what they have, but they might very well be better off," he said.

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Guest Bill Harold

I think it is important to see the other side thinks. Here is last night's news conference of Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner


MCCONNELL: Well, good afternoon, everyone. Obviously, the subject du jour -- and it seems like virtually every day -- is health care. And it certainly should be the subject.


I continue to hear suggestions that members of the Republican Conference in the Senate are not for health care. I can't find a single member who -- who is not for trying to improve America's health care system.


Most all of us agree with the American people, who overwhelmingly say in polls that ....



...like the quality, but they are concerned about the cost and the access.


And, of course, cost and access are related issues. The administration does continue to mention these unnamed people who seem not to want to make progress on this, and I've been unable to find anyone.


Not a single, solitary soul, as I indicated, of the Republican Conference in the Senate is in favor of no action. What we do think is that we ought to target the problems. And there are ways to do that that could be achieved, I think, on a large bipartisan basis.


For example, why should we any longer tolerate junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals? Example: Why would we not want to incentivize plans like the Safeway plan that has demonstrated you can -- you can cap the cost of health insurance by incentivizing your employees to go after the preventable causes of health care problems in this country -- smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, lack of exercise.


They have demonstrated that by incentivizing their employees to change their behavior, they can have an impact.


We know that one of the reasons we have such a large number of uninsured is because if you're an individual purchasing health care, it's not deductible on your tax return. But if your company is providing it for you, it's deductible on the corporate tax return.


Why would we not want to equalize the tax treatment for individuals and corporations?


These are the kinds of things that would have a positive impact on improving the cost issue and access.

I noticed that the CBO director (nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office) was sort of called down to the White House yesterday. It strikes me as somewhat akin to the owner of the team asking the umpires to come up to the owner's box. I mean, if the CBO is to have credibility, they're the umpire. They're not players in this game.


And I don't think we ought to be tampering with an organization that is arguably controlled by the majority here in Congress but, nevertheless, tries to function as an independent arbiter, an estimator of the cost of what we do.


So we look forward to being able to move a health care proposal this year on a truly bipartisan basis and one that doesn't increase the deficit, one that doesn't put the government in charge of – of our health care, one that doesn't produce a system that in the end delays cares, in many instances denies care.


And, of course, in order to do that, they would be rationing care. I don't think the American people want any of that, nor should we be trying to pass it. With that, let me call on my friend and colleague, Leader Boehner.


BOEHNER: Well, let me thank you, Senator McConnell, for your work over here in the Senate, and your work, really, with your Republican colleagues in the House on dealing with the issues that are coming at us like a machine gun.


Listen, the American people want us to work together to reform health care in America so that it costs less and that we can then provide better access for more Americans.


But I think, as Americans look up today, what they see is a big government takeover of health care that's on the table and a plan that -- that, frankly, they don't support.


Tonight we'll hear the president likely say some -- repeat some of the myths that he's been repeating over the last several months.


First he'll say, if you -- if you like your plan, you can keep it. But, clearly, under the Congressional Budget Office estimates, 23 million Americans will be forced out of their private health insurance into a government-run plan.


And Lewin and Associates, a consulting firm, health care experts, estimate that number could be as high as 114 million.


He'll say that the -- the Democrat plan will reduce health care costs in America, but it's pretty clear that the director of the Congressional Budget Office says the health care curve not only will not decrease, that the health care curve will increase.


And at a time when we're trying to get the costs out of the system, there's nothing in their proposal that will reduce costs in our health care system.


I don't know how you can spend $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years and say that we're going to spend less on health care.


The president's likely to say that any plan that passes will not add to the deficit. Well, the Congressional Budget Office has made clear that the plan that's on the table in the House will increase the size of the deficit by $239 billion over the next 10 years.


You know, beyond all this, the White House chief of staff, this morning, said that the president -- he was reviewing the president's speech when he said, "The president's likely to say that we've rescued the economy."


BOEHNER: Well, I'd like to ask my folks back in Ohio, where the unemployment rate is at 11.2 percent, whether they've been rescued by their economy. And if they try to fix our health care system like they've tried to rescue our economy, I think we're in really, really big trouble.


Listen, it's time for the president to scrap the plan that they've been working on in the House. It's time to bring both parties together to have real health care reform that will reduce the cost of the system, will reduce the cost of health insurance for Americans, and provide better access.


MCCONNELL: We'll take a few questions. All right.


QUESTION: Senator McConnell, Senator Voinovich said on CNBC today, he was asked what (inaudible) Obama's health care plan (inaudible) policy differences or whether (inaudible). What's your reaction to that?


MCCONNELL: Well, as I said earlier, I'm unaware of a single member of our conference, not one, who is not in favor of doing health care reform in a very positive way, and for one plan or another. There are various plans that are around.


So I -- you know, we want to do the right thing here. This is not about the president. I think there are some who think everything is about the president. This is about the country and about a huge issue that affects all of our lives, our health, and is 16 percent of our economy.


And in a country of 300 million people, obviously their representatives may have some different points of view about the best way to fix the problem. But this is not about any individual. This is about the issue and taking the time to get it right, as Leader Boehner indicated.


We had an experience with rushing a major bill earlier this year. They said we had to get the stimulus through yesterday.


With interest, that's going to be about a trillion dollars. We're spending $100 million a day in interest on it.


And it was sold to those who enthusiastically embraced it as a way to keep unemployment from going above 8 percent. Now it's headed to 10. And in Kentucky, its 10.9 percent.


We don't need a do-over of that kind of procedure. This is too important to be rushed. We need to take our time and do it right.


QUESTION: But would you say there's any political motivation to your opposition to President Obama's health care plan?


MCCONNELL: I hate to repeat what I just said, but this is about getting the policy right. This is about getting the policy right. We don't wish anyone ill. We want to get the policy right.


QUESTION: But, Senator, you must be -- Mr. Boehner has frustrations that Republicans (inaudible) maybe on the House side, but you must be satisfied that negotiations over here are fairly bipartisan. Senator Grassley (inaudible).

MCCONNELL: Yes, we have plenty of discussions, but in the end, the question will be, how bipartisan is the product? I mean, we've had plenty of interaction with the president. I like him. He's a good -- good man.


But the test of whether or not this is a bipartisan product will be the product itself.


QUESTION: Leader Boehner, we heard Speaker Pelosi say today she thinks she has the votes. That sort of contradicts something we heard Congressman Cantor say yesterday, I believe. (inaudible)


BOEHNER: Well, I don't know whether she has the votes or not. I'm not quite sure she knows whether she's got the votes or not. But it is pretty clear that they're going to rush ahead and put this risky scheme on the floor as early as next week.


Now, we need (inaudible) to look at the pieces of this puzzle. I didn't bring my chart with me, but this is a giant government bureaucracy.


You know, yesterday, I pointed out this little section in the bill that requires after five years all employer-provided health care plans are going to have to be approved by the Department of Labor and the health care choices czar.


And their approval will be based on whether these employer-provided plans meet federal standards for a high-quality plan.


Are you kidding me? I mean, most employers in America are going to look up and go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. That's it. I'll pay the 8 percent tax that's included in this bill. And my employees will have to go fend for themselves."


This will push tens of millions of Americans right out of their employer-provided health care plan.


QUESTION: Leader Boehner (inaudible)? And is it a problem to have the CBO invited to the (inaudible) White House (inaudible)?


BOEHNER: Listen, I don't fault the CBO director from accepting an invitation from the president of the United States to attend a meeting. I'm not quite sure what the purpose of the meeting or the invitation was. And so, you'll have to ask the White House that question.


But you bring up a very important point. The $239 billion deficit really is only for about five years. Because it's going to take five years for this plan to be put into effect.


And so, when you look at the real cost of this plan, it's not just the $1.6 trillion. It's going to be a whole lot more than that over a 10-year period. Because as CBO pointed out, when you get out into years seven, eight and nine, you've got annual costs for this plan over $200 billion a year.


As a matter of fact, I think in year nine or 10, it's $230 billion per year. And that's in today's dollars. And government estimate. Can you imagine what it's really going to cost when we get out 10 years? You're probably talking about $300 billion a year in additional outlays.


And clearly the tax increases that they have are bad enough, but will not be anywhere close enough to cover the real cost.


QUESTION: Senator McConnell, (inaudible)?


MCCONNELL: To do what?


QUESTION: (inaudible)


MCCONNELL: Well, before we get to the issue of how to pay for it, we need to see what we're doing. And we haven't -- as far as I know, other than the HELP Committee bill, which was unpaid for. They just structured the bill and left the pay-fors to the Senate. I'm not prepared to start picking out pay-fors until I see the product. OK. Thank you.


BOEHNER: Thanks. ###

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JT under Universal Health Care? YOU CAN'T SUE A DOCTOR IF HE/SHE MAKES A MISTAKE, and that Does include Hospitals.


The Devil is in the details. :)


I want ALL of us to win. I like the insurance companies about as much

As I like Osama Bin Laden.


But I don't want ALL of us from going from BAD to WORSE. Universal Health Care IS TORT REFORM.

We are all going to get hit by this. For God Sakes!!! Use what god gave you "Your Mind".


Right now you ARE healthy JT, you haven't been through the health care system, and remember this little conversation that we are having when the doctors make a mistake on you.


Jt and when you do go through it, and they mess up on you? DON"T even think of complaining after wards "Man".


Be a robot, don't think. The democrats Will love you. That Adorable list that you posted, you are NOT looking at how they came up with the formula as to the Rankings.


LOL Do you honestly think that the lawyers I'm getting together to go after the second Spending Bill are doing it cause they love you all or me?


It's the Money.



Dear Human: I haven't been through the healthcare system and I'm healthy? Please tell me more inaccurate shots-in-the-dark about myself; I'll be waiting with baited breath. Really.

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Guest LaRouche PAC

President Obama is now impeachable, because he has, in effect, proposed legislation which is an exact copy of the legislation for which the Hitler regime was condemned in the post-war trials. This is an impeachable offense: to propose such a thing in this time, is an impeachable offense. The time has come that the President of the United States deserves impeachment. With this statement from him, the President now deserves impeachment."


In discussions prior to the President's address, LaRouche had noted that we are going into a point where everything is going to blow by no later than about the 12th of October. Therefore, the critical thing is to defeat Obama now on his health care agenda. Defeat him now. If they are forced to extend the deadline and go into the fall before they actually get this thing nailed down, LaRouche explained, then they've already lost. So we've got to escalate to defeat this thing right at this moment.


The President's promotion of this "T-4" as the non-negotiable element of his package is really a Nuremberg crime, LaRouche continued, and that becomes a basis for rallying the forces for defeating this thing, proving that this is a "T-4" fascist program. It's really an act of treason against the General Welfare clause of the Constitution.


Therefore, LaRouche stated, we have got to beat this thing now, because that represents a strategic forcing mechanism; whereas if they ram this thing through in the short term, which they are really desperate to do, then the Constitution is finished, the Republic is gone. It's the equivalent of the Reichstag fire

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Guest LAW_*

Here is the transcript of President Obama's Health Care News Conference


East Room

July 22,2009


8:01 P.M. EDT


THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Please be seated. Before I take your questions, I want to talk for a few minutes about the progress we're making on health insurance reform and where it fits into our broader economic strategy.


Six months ago, I took office amid the worst recession in half a century. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month and our financial system was on the verge of collapse.


As a result of the actions we took in those first weeks, we've been able to pull our economy back from the brink. We took steps to stabilize our financial institutions and our housing market. And we passed a Recovery Act that has already saved jobs and created new ones; delivered billions in tax relief to families and small businesses; and extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who've been laid off.


Of course, we still have a long way to go. And the Recovery Act will continue to save and create more jobs over the next two years -- just like it was designed to do. I realize this is little comfort to those Americans who are currently out of work, and I'll be honest with you -- new hiring is always one of the last things to bounce back after a recession.


And the fact is, even before this crisis hit, we had an economy that was creating a good deal of wealth for those folks at the very top, but not a lot of good-paying jobs for the rest of America. It's an economy that simply wasn't ready to compete in the 21st century -- one where we've been slow to invest in clean energy technologies that have created new jobs and industries in other countries; where we've watched our graduation rates lag behind too much of the world; and where we spend much more on health care than any other nation but aren't any healthier for it.


That's why I've said that even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before. And health insurance reform is central to that effort.


This is not just about the 47 million Americans who don't have any health insurance at all. Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job. It's about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive. And it's about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid.


So let me be clear: If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we don't act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate that we're having right now.


I realize that with all the charges and criticisms that are being thrown around in Washington, a lot of Americans may be wondering, "What's in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?"


So tonight I want to answer those questions. Because even though Congress is still working through a few key issues, we already have rough agreement on the following areas:


If you have health insurance, the reform we're proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it. It will prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, if you move, or if you change your job, you'll still be able to have coverage. It will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.


Now, if you don't have health insurance, or you're a small business looking to cover your employees, you'll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan through a health insurance exchange -- a marketplace that promotes choice and competition. Finally, no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a preexisting medical condition. I've also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade. And I mean it. In the past eight years, we saw the enactment of two tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, and a Medicare prescription program -- none of which were paid for. And that's partly why I inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.


That will not happen with health insurance reform. It will be paid for. Already we've estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs. This includes over $100 billion of unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare -- subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors. And I'm pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals. While they're currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families.


In addition to making sure that this plan doesn't add to the deficit in the short term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs in the long run. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are free to give patients the best care, just not the most expensive care. That's why the nation's largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan.


We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis -- a proposal that could save even more money and ensure long-term financial health for Medicare. Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts.


Not all of the cost savings measures I just mentioned were contained in Congress's draft legislation, but we're now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that has done over the last few days. So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what's remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go -- it's how far we've already come.


I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics -- to turn every issue into a running tally of who's up and who's down. I've heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to "go for the kill"; another Republican senator that defeating health care reform is about "breaking" me.


So let me be clear: This isn't about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings. This is about the woman in Colorado who paid $700 a month to her insurance company only to find out that they wouldn't pay a dime for her cancer treatment -- who had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life. This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs and woke up from the emergency surgery that he required with $10,000 worth of debt. This is about every family, every business, and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades.


This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they can't afford to wait any longer for reform. They're counting on us to get this done. They're looking to us for leadership. And we can't let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year.


With that, I'll take your questions. And we are going to start off with Ben Feller of Associated Press.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Congress, as you alluded to, is trying to figure out how to pay for all of this reform. Have you told House and Senate leaders which of their ideas are acceptable to you? If so, are you willing to share that stand of yours with the American people? And if you haven't given that kind of direction to congressional leaders, are you willing to -- are you willing to explain why you're not stepping in to get a deal done, since you're the one setting a deadline?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, before we talk about how to pay for it, let's talk about what exactly needs to be done. And the reason I want to emphasize this is because there's been a lot of misinformation out there.


Right now premiums for families that have health insurance have doubled over the last 10 years. They've gone up three times faster than wages. So what we know is that if the current trends continue, more and more families are going to lose health care, more and more families are going to be in a position where they keep their health care but it takes a bigger bite out of their budget, employers are going to put more and more of the costs on the employees or they're just going to stop providing health care altogether.


We also know that with health care inflation on the curve that it's on we are guaranteed to see Medicare and Medicaid basically break the federal budget. And we know that we're spending on average, we here in the United States are spending about $6,000 more than other advanced countries where they're just as healthy. And I've said this before -- if you found out that your neighbor had gotten the same car for $6,000 less, you'd want to figure out how to get that deal. And that's what reform is all about: How can we make sure that we are getting the best bang for our health care dollar?


Now, what we did very early on was say two-thirds of the costs of health care reform -- which includes providing coverage for people who don't have it, making it more affordable for folks who do, and making sure that we're over the long term creating the kinds of systems where prevention and wellness and information technologies make the system more efficient -- that the entire cost of that has to be paid for and it's got to be deficit-neutral. And we identified two-thirds of those costs to be paid for by tax dollars that are already being spent right now.


So taxpayers are already putting this money into the kitty. The problem is they're not getting a good deal for the money they're spending. That takes care of about two-thirds of the cost. The remaining one-third is what the argument has been about of late. What I've said is that there may be a number of different ways to raise money. I put forward what I thought was the best proposal, which was to limit the deductions, the itemized deductions, for the wealthiest Americans -- people like myself could take the same percentage deduction that middle-class families do and that would raise sufficient funds for that final one-third.


Now, so far we haven't seen any of the bills adopt that. There are other ideas that are out there. I continue to think my idea is the best one, but I'm not foreclosing some of these other ideas as the committees are working them through. The one commitment that I've been clear about is I don't want that final one-third of the cost of health care to be completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families who are already struggling in a difficult economy. And so if I see a proposal that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families, I'm going to be opposed to that because I think there are better ideas to do it.


Now, there are -- I have not yet seen what the Senate Finance Committee is producing. They've got a number of ideas, but we haven't seen a final draft. The House suggested a surcharge on wealthy Americans, and my understanding, although I haven't seen the final versions, is, is that there's been talk about making that basically only apply to families whose joint income is a million dollars.


To me, that meets my principle that it's not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time, but what I want to do is to see what emerges from these committees, continuing to work to find more savings -- because I actually think that it's possible for us to fund even more of this process through identifying waste in the system, try to narrow as much as possible the new revenue that's needed on the front end, and then see how we can piece this thing together in a way that's acceptable to both Democrats and I hope some Republicans.


Q Is it your job to get a deal done?


THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely it's my job. I'm the President. And I think this has to get done. Just a broader point -- if somebody told you that there is a plan out there that is guaranteed to double your health care costs over the next 10 years, that's guaranteed to result in more Americans losing their health care, and that is by far the biggest contributor to our federal deficit. I think most people would be opposed to that. Well, that's the status quo. That's what we have right now.


So if we don't change, we can't expect a different result. And that's why I think this is so important, not only for those families out there who are struggling and who need some protection from abuses in the insurance industry or need some protection from skyrocketing costs, but it's also important for our economy.


And, by the way, it's important for families' wages and incomes. One of the things that doesn't get talked about is the fact that when premiums are going up and the costs to employers are going up, that's money that could be going into people's wages and incomes. And over the last decade we basically saw middle-class families, their incomes and wages flatlined. Part of the reason is because health care costs are gobbling that up.


And that's why I say if we can -- even if we don't reduce our health care costs by the $6,000 that we're paying more than any other country on Earth, if we just reduced it by $2,000 or $3,000, that would mean money in people's pockets. And that's possible to do.


But we're going to have to make some changes. We've got to change how health care is delivered to -- the health care delivery system works so that doctors are being paid for the quality of care and not the quantity of care. We've got to make information technology more effective. We've got to have the medical system work in teams so that people don't go through five different tests. Those are all critical to do, and we can do them.


Now, I understand that people are feeling uncertain about this, they feel anxious, partly because we've just become so cynical about what government can accomplish, that people's attitudes are, you know, even though I don't like this devil, at least I know it and I like that more than the devil I don't know. So folks are skeptical, and that is entirely legitimate because they haven't seen a lot of laws coming out of Washington lately that help them.


But my hope is, and I'm confident that when people look at the costs of doing nothing they're going to say, we can make this happen -- we've made big changes before that end up resulting in a better life for the American people.


David Alexander, Reuters.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You've been pushing Congress to pass health care reform by August. Why the rush? Are you worried that if you don't -- there's a delay until the fall, the whole effort will collapse?


THE PRESIDENT: A couple of points. Number one, I'm rushed because I get letters every day from families that are being clobbered by health care costs. And they ask me, can you help? So I've got a middle-aged couple that will write me and they say, our daughter just found out she's got leukemia and if I don't do something soon we just either are going to go bankrupt or we're not going to be able to provide our daughter with the care that she needs. And in a country like ours, that's not right. So that's part of my rush.


The second thing is the fact that if you don't set deadlines in this town things don't happen. The default position is inertia. Because doing something always creates some people who are unhappy. There's always going to be some interest out there that decides, you know what, the status quo is working for me a little bit better. And the fact that we have made so much progress where we've got doctors, nurses, hospitals, even the pharmaceutical industry, AARP, saying that this makes sense to do, I think means that the stars are aligned and we need to take advantage of that.


Now, I do think it's important to get this right. And if at the end of the day I do not yet see that we have it right then I'm not going to sign a bill that, for example, adds to our deficit; I won't sign a bill that doesn't reduce health care inflation so that families as well as government are saving money. I'm not going to sign a bill that I don't think will work. And my measure of whether things work or not are listening to the American people but also listening to health care experts who have shown that in some communities, health care is cheaper and delivers a better result. I think we can achieve that.


So I'm confident that if we just keep at it, we keep working, we're diligent, we're honest, if we take criticisms that are out there and modify whatever plans are already working through Congress so that it meets those concerns and those criticisms, that we can arrive at a bill that is going to improve the lives of the American people.


And I'll give you one specific example. I think that there was legitimate concern that we had not incorporated all of the measures that could reduce health care inflation over the long term in some of the versions of health care reform that were coming out of the committee. Well, over the last week, working with not only health care experts but also members of Congress who are concerned about this, we actually have now gotten a commitment to incorporate an idea that has a panel of doctors and health care experts advising on how we can get a better value for our money in Medicare. And every expert out there says this can be a valuable tool to start reducing inflation over the long term.


So can I say this, though -- if we hadn't had any kind of deadline, that change probably would have never surfaced until who knows when. And so I want to do this right, but the American people need some relief.


Chuck Todd.


Q Thank you, sir. You were just talking in that question about reducing health care inflation, reducing costs. Can you explain how you're going to expand coverage? Is it fair to say -- is this bill going to cover all 47 million Americans that are uninsured, or is this going to be something -- is it going to take a mandate, or is this something that isn't -- your bill is probably not going to get it all the way there? And if it's not going to get all the way there, can you say how far is enough -- you know, okay, 20 million more, I can sign that; 10 million more, I can't?


THE PRESIDENT: I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that unless you have a what's called a single-payer system in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual, because there's always going to be somebody out there who thinks they're indestructible and doesn't want to get health care, doesn't bother getting health care, and then unfortunately when they get hit by a bus end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.


But that's not the overwhelming majority of Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans want health care, but millions of them can't afford it. So the plan that has been -- that I've put forward and that what we're seeing in Congress would cover -- the estimates are at least 97 to 98 percent of Americans.


There might still be people left out there who, even though there's an individual mandate, even though they are required to purchase health insurance, might still not get it, or despite a lot of subsidies are still in such dire straits that it's still hard for them to afford it, and we may end up giving them some sort of hardship exemption.


But -- I'm sorry, go ahead -- so I think that the basic idea should be that in this country, if you want health care, you should be able to get affordable health care.


And given the waste that's already in the system right now, if we just redesign certain elements of health care, then we can pay for that. We can pay for it in the short term, but we can also pay for it in the long term. And, in fact, there's going to be a whole lot of savings that we obtain from that because, for example, the average American family is paying thousands of dollars in hidden costs in their insurance premiums to pay for what's called uncompensated care -- people who show up at the emergency room because they don't have a primary care physician.


If we can get those people insured, and instead of having a foot amputation because of advanced diabetes they're getting a nutritionist who's working with them to make sure that they are keeping their diet where it needs to be, that's going to save us all money in the long term.


Q Back to the politics of it. You mentioned two Republicans in your opening statement, but you have 60 Democratic seats, a healthy majority in the House. If you don't get this, isn't this a fight inside the Democratic Party, and that Republicans really aren't playing -- you can't really blame the Republicans for this one?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you haven't seen me out there blaming the Republicans. I've been a little frustrated by some of the misinformation that's been coming out of the Republicans, but that has to do with, as you pointed out, politics. You know, if you've got somebody out there saying -- not that let's get the best bill possible but instead says, you know, let's try to beat this so we can gain political advantage -- well, that's not I think what the American people expect.


I am very appreciative that people like Chuck Grassley on the Finance Committee in the Senate, people like Mike Enzi, people like Olympia Snowe, have been serious in engaging Democrats in trying to figure out how do we actually get a system that works. And even in those committees where you didn't see Republican votes, we've seen Republican ideas. So, for example, in the HELP Committee in the Senate, 160 Republican amendments were adopted into that bill because they've got good ideas to contribute.


So the politics may dictate that they don't vote for health care reform because they think, you know, it'll make Obama more vulnerable. But if they've got a good idea we'll still take it. And in terms of Democrats, the fact of the matter is that because this is a big issue, I think that a lot of Democrats have a lot of different ideas -- some of them have to do with regional disparities. For example, you've got some Democrats who are concerned that the Medicare reimbursement rates in their communities are too low and so they'd like to see the bill incorporate higher rates for doctors and providers in rural communities to incentivize good care in those communities. That's a legitimate concern. But the minute you bring up that concern then that adds money, which means that we then have to find additional dollars.


So this is part of just the normal give-and-take of the legislative process. I'm confident at the end we're going to have a bill that Democrats and some Republicans support.




Q Thank you, Mr. President. You said earlier that you wanted to tell the American people what's in it for them, how will their family benefit from health care reform. But experts say that in addition to the benefits that you're pushing there is going to have to be some sacrifice in order for there to be true cost-cutting measures, such as Americans giving up tests, referrals, choice, end-of-life care. When you describe health care reform you don't -- understandably you don't talk about the sacrifices that Americans might have to make. Do you think -- do you accept the premise that other than some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, the American people are going to have to give anything up in order for this to happen?


THE PRESIDENT: They're going to have to give up paying for things that don't make them healthier. And I -- speaking as an American, I think that's the kind of change you want.


Look, if right now hospitals and doctors aren't coordinating enough to have you just take one test when you come in because of an illness, but instead have you take one test; then you go to another specialist, you take a second test; then you go to another special, you take a third test -- and nobody's bothering to send the first test that you took -- same test -- to the next doctors, you're wasting money.


You may not see it because if you have health insurance right now it's just being sent to the insurance company, but that's raising your premiums, it's raising everybody's premiums, and that money one way or another is coming out of your pocket -- although we are also subsidizing some of that because there are tax breaks for health care. So not only is it costing you money in terms of higher premiums, it's also costing you as a taxpayer.


Now, I want to change that. Every American should want to change that. Why would we want to pay for things that don't work, that aren't making us healthier? And here's what I'm confident about: If doctors and patients have the best information about what works and what doesn't, then they're going to want to pay for what works. If there's a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that's going to make you well?


But the system right now doesn't incentivize that. Those are the changes that are going to be needed -- that we're going to need to make inside the system. It will require I think patients to -- as well as doctors, as well as hospitals -- to be more discriminating consumers. But I think that's a good thing, because ultimately we can't afford this. We just can't afford what we're doing right now.


And just to raise a broader issue that I think has colored how we look at health care reform, let me just talk about deficit and debt, because part of what's been happening in this debate is the American people are understandably queasy about the huge deficits and debt that we're facing right now. And the feeling is, all right, we had the bank bailout, we had the recovery package, we had the supplemental, we've got the budget, we're seeing numbers -- trillions here and trillions there. And so I think legitimately people are saying, look, we're in a recession, I'm cutting back, I'm having to give up things -- and yet all I see is government spending more and more money. And that argument I think has been used effectively by people who don't want to change health care to suggest that somehow this is one more government program. So I just want to address that point very quickly.


First of all, let's understand that when I came in we had a $1.3 trillion deficit -- annual deficit that we had already inherited. We had to immediately move forward with a stimulus package because the American economy had lost trillions of dollars of wealth; consumers had lost through their 401(k)s, through their home values, you name it, they had lost trillions of dollars. That all just went away. That was the day I was sworn in, it was already happening. And we had 700,000 jobs that were being lost.


So we felt it was very important to put in place a recovery package that would help stabilize the economy. Then we had to pass a budget, by law. And our budget had a 10-year projection -- and I just want everybody to be clear about this: If we had done nothing, if you had the same old budget as opposed to the changes we made in our budget, you'd have a $9.3 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. Because of the changes we've made it's going to be $7.1 trillion. Now, that's not good, but it's $2.2 trillion less than it would have been if we had the same policies in place when we came in.


So the reason I point this out is to say that the debt and the deficit are deep concerns of mine. I am very worried about federal spending. And the steps that we've taken so far have reduced federal spending over the next 10 years by $2.2 trillion. It's not enough. But in order for us to do more, we're not only going to have to eliminate waste in the system -- and by the way, we had a big victory yesterday by eliminating a weapons program, the F-22, that the Pentagon had repeatedly said we didn't need -- so we're going to have to eliminate waste there, we're going to have to eliminate no-bid contracts, we're going to have to do all kinds of reforms in our budgeting -- but we're also going to have to change health care. Otherwise we can't close that $7.1 trillion gap in the way that the American people want it to change.


So to all -- everybody who's out there who has been ginned up about this idea that the Obama administration wants to spend and spend and spend, the fact of the matter is, is that we inherited a enormous deficit, enormous long-term debt projections. We have not reduced it as much as we need to and as I'd like to, but health care reform is not going to add to that deficit; it's designed to lower it. That's part of the reason why it's so important to do, and to do now.


Chip Reid.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. On Medicare, there are obviously millions of Americans who depend on Medicare, and when you talk about bending the long-term cost down, or when you talk about cuts in the current proposal on Capitol Hill, you talk about cuts in Medicare and they talk about cuts in Medicare, but there are never many specifics. Specifically, what kind of pain, what kind of sacrifice, are you calling on beneficiaries to make? And even if not right away, aren't future beneficiaries going to be getting less generous benefits than today's?




Q And a subsidiary question, what do you think about taking it out of the political realm and giving it to an outside body of experts to take the politics out of Medicare?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, on the second point, that's exactly what our proposal is. It -- called the MedPAC program. By the way, it was originally a Republican idea. I want to give credit where credit is due. The Republican Congress passed a bill that created a panel of health care experts to make recommendations to Congress on how we could get better quality, lower cost. The problem is every year it would just go on a shelf, and nobody would act on it.


So what we've said is let's give that body some power. Let's require Congress to vote on the proposals that they're making every year. Congress can still reject them, so it's not completely removing it from politics, but they have to reject or accept it as a package. And that I think would incentive and empower important changes.


But here's the thing I want to emphasize, Chip. It's not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it's going to do is to change how those benefits are delivered so that they're more efficient.


Let me give you a very specific example. You've heard that as a consequence of our efforts at reform, the pharmaceutical industry has already said they're willing to put $80 billion on the table. Now, why is that? Well, the reason is, is because there's probably even more waste than $80 billion, in terms of how the drug plan in Medicare is administered. We might be able to get $100 billion out or more, but the pharmaceutical industry voluntarily said, here's $80 billion.


You know what that means? That means that senior citizens who right now have a so-called doughnut hole in their plan where after spending a certain amount on prescription drugs suddenly they drop off a cliff and they've got to pocket the entire cost, suddenly half of that is filled. That's a hard commitment that we already have.


So that's a change in how we are delivering Medicare. But you know what, it turns out that it means out-of-pocket savings for seniors. That's why AARP has endorsed this.


Christi Parsons.


Q Thank you. During the campaign you promised that health care negotiations would take place on C-SPAN, and that hasn't happened. And your administration recently turned down a request from a watchdog group seeking a list of health care executives who have visited the White House to talk about health care reform. Also, the TARP inspector general recently said that your White House is withholding too much information on the bank bailouts. So my question for you is, are you fulfilling your promise of transparency in the White House?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, on the list of health care executives who've visited us, most of the time you guys have been in there taking pictures, so it hasn't been a secret. And my understanding is we just sent a letter out providing a full list of all the executives. But frankly these have mostly been at least photo sprays where you could see who was participating.


With respect to all the negotiations not being on C-SPAN, you will recall in this very room that our kickoff event was here on C-SPAN, and at a certain point you start getting into all kinds of different meetings -- Senate Finance is having a meeting, the House is having a meeting. If they wanted those to be on C-SPAN then I would welcome it. I don't think there are a lot of secrets going on in there.


And the last question with respect to TARP. Let me take a look at what exactly they say we have not provided. I think that we've provided much greater transparency than existed prior to our administration coming in. It is a big program. I don't know exactly what's been requested. I'll find out and I will have an answer for you.




Q Thank you, Mr. President. You've said the recent bank profits indicate that there's been no sense of remorse on Wall Street for risky behavior, that we haven't seen a change in culture there. Do you think that your administration needs to be taking a harder line with Wall Street? And also, would you consider going a step further than your regulatory reform proposals and supporting a fee on risky activities that go beyond traditional lending?


THE PRESIDENT: We were on the verge of a complete financial meltdown. And the reason was because Wall Street took extraordinary risks with other people's money, they were peddling loans that they knew could never be paid back, they were flipping those loans and leveraging those loans and higher and higher mountains of debt were being built on loans that were fundamentally unsound. And all of us now are paying the price.


Now, I believe it was the right thing to do -- as unpopular as it is, it was the right thing for us to do to step in to make sure that the financial system did not collapse, because things would be even worse today had those steps not been taken. It originated under the Bush administration. We continued it because whether you're on the left or the right, if you talk to economists, they said that this could have the kinds of consequences that would drop us into a deep depression and not simply a very severe recession.


Now, one of the success stories of the past six months is that we really have seen a stabilization in the financial system. It's not where it needs to be, but people are no longer talking about the financial system falling off a cliff. We've stepped away from the brink. And that's important, because what it means is there are a lot of companies right now that can go into the marketplace and borrow money to fund inventory, fund payroll, and that will help the economy grow as a whole.


The problem is, now that the financial system has bounced back, what you're seeing is that banks are starting to make profits again. Some of them have paid back the TARP money that they received, the bank bailout money that they received. And we expect more of them to pay this back. That's a good thing. And we also think it's a good thing that they're profitable again, because if they're profitable that means that they have reserves in place and they can lend. And this is America, so if you're profitable in the free market system then you benefit.


But what we haven't seen I think is the kind of change in behavior and practices on Wall Street that would ensure that we don't find ourselves in a fix again where we've got to bail out these folks while they're taking huge risks and taking huge bonuses.


So what do I think we need to do? We've got to pass financial regulatory reform. And this is an example of where folks say, well, should the Obama administration be taking on too much? The fact of the matter is that if we don't pass financial regulatory reform then banks are going to go back to the same things that they were doing before. In some ways it could be worse because now they know that the federal government may think that they're too big to fail and so if they're unconstrained they could take even more risks. And so there are a number of elements of financial regulatory reform.


With respect to compensation I'd like to think that people would feel a little remorse and feel embarrassed and would not get million-dollar or multimillion-dollar bonuses. But if shame does not work then I think one proposal that I put forward is to make sure that at least shareholders of these companies know what their executives are being compensated -- and that may force some reductions.


For banks that are still receiving taxpayer assistance we have a set of rules that gives us some control on reducing unwarranted compensation.


And in terms of the last point that you made, which is the possibility of fees for transactions that we want to discourage, that is one of the ideas that is going to be working its way through the process. I think at minimum what we want to do is to make sure that to the extent the federal government is going to have to be a backstop, just like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, what everybody is familiar with, FDIC, the reason that when you put your deposits in your bank you can have confidence that they're insured -- that's paid for through bank fees. We may need to make sure that there is a similar mechanism in place for some of these other far-out transactions. So if you guys want to do them, then you got to put something into the kitty to make sure that if you screw up it's not taxpayer dollars that have to pay for it, but it's dollars coming out of your profits.


Steve Koff, the Cleveland Plain Dealer.


Q Thank you. To follow up on Jake's question earlier, sir, so many Americans are concerned that this plan, particularly the government insurance, the public option, would lead to reduced benefits or reduced coverage.


Two questions. One, can you guarantee that this legislation will lock in and say the government will never deny any services; that that's going to be decided by the doctor and the patient, and the government will not deny any coverage? And secondarily, can you, as a symbolic gesture, say that you and the Congress will abide by the same benefits in that public option?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, number one, not only the public option but the insurance regulation that we want to put in place will largely match up with what members of Congress are getting through the federal employee plan. That's a good example of what we're trying to build for the American people -- the same thing that Congress enjoys, which is they go -- there is a marketplace of different plans that they can access, depending on what's best for their families.


Now, one of the plans that we've talked about is a public option. And part of the reason we want to have a public option is just to help keep the insurance companies honest. If the insurance companies are providing good care -- and as it is, they're going to be more regulated so that they can't deny you care because of a preexisting condition or because you change jobs or because they've decided you're too sick and not a good risk -- with regulation there's already going to be some improvement in the insurance industry.


But having a public plan out there that also shows that maybe if you take some of the profit motive out, maybe if you are reducing some of the administrative costs, that you can get an even better deal, that's going to incentivize the private sector to do even better. And that's a good thing. That's a good thing.


Now, there have been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits -- right now. At a time when everybody is getting hammered, they're making record profits, and premiums are going up. What's the constraint on that? How can you ensure that those costs aren't being passed on to employers or passed on to employees, the American people, ordinary middle-class families, in a way that over time is going to make them broke? Well, part of the way is to make sure that there's some competition out there. So that's the idea.


Now, to get to your original question, can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health care delivery system? No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier. The government already is making some of these decisions. More importantly, insurance companies right now are making those decisions.


And part of what we want to do is to make sure that those decisions are being made by doctors and medical experts based on evidence, based on what works -- because that's not how it's working right now. That's not how it's working right now. Right now doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that's out there.


So if they're looking -- and you come in and you've got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, you know what, I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out. Now that may be the right thing to do, but I'd rather have that doctor making those decisions just based on whether you really need your kid's tonsils out or whether it might make more sense just to change -- maybe they have allergies, maybe they have something else that would make a difference.


So part of what we want to do is to free doctors, patients, hospitals to make decisions based on what's best for patient care -- and that's the whole idea behind Mayo, that's the whole idea behind the Cleveland Clinic. I'm going to be visiting your hometown tomorrow to go to the Cleveland Clinic to show -- to show why their system works so well. And part of the reason it works well is because they've set up a system where patient care is the number-one concern, not bureaucracy, what forms have to be filled out, what do we get reimbursed for. Those are changes that I think the American people want to see.


Q And what about yourself and Congress? Would you abide by the same benefits package?


THE PRESIDENT: You know, I would be happy to abide by the same benefit package. I will just be honest with you -- I'm the President of the United States so I've got a doctor following me every minute. (Laughter.) Which is why I say this is not about me. I've got the best health care in the world. I'm trying to make sure that everybody has good health care -- and they don't right now.


Lynn Sweet. Oh. (Laughter.) Well, I said Steve Koff -- but he just stood up, huh?


Q Yes.


THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's not fair. Shame on you. (Laughter.) All right, get in there real quick.


Q -- got the Cleveland connection, so I appreciate that. You cited the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinics as models for the delivery of health care in the past. The Mayo Clinic, though, has some problems with the House proposal saying they're not focused enough on patients and on results. What do you expect to achieve tomorrow by going to the Cleveland Clinic -- which hasn't stated an opinion -- and are you expecting some form of endorsement from the Cleveland Clinic?


THE PRESIDENT: I am not expecting an endorsement. The Cleveland Clinic is simply a role model for some of the kind of changes that we want to see. I think it's important to note that the Mayo Clinic was initially critical and concerned about whether there were enough changes in the delivery system and cost-saving measures in the original House bill. After they found out that we had put forward very specific mechanisms for this MedPAC idea, this idea of experts getting the politics out of health care and making decisions based on the best evidence out there, they wrote in their blog the very next day that we actually think this would make a difference. Okay?


All right, I tried to make that short so that Lynn Sweet would get her last question in.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Recently Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you and what does it say about race relations in America?


THE PRESIDENT: Well, I should say at the outset that "Skip" Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house, there was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place -- so far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into -- well, I guess this is my house now so -- (laughter) -- it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago -- (laughter) -- here I'd get shot. (Laughter.)


But so far, so good. They're reporting -- the police are doing what they should. There's a call, they go investigate what happens. My understanding is at that point Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in, I'm sure there's some exchange of words, but my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house. And at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct -- charges which are later dropped.


Now, I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that, but I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact.


As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in this society. That doesn't lessen the incredible progress that has been made. I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made.


And yet the fact of the matter is, is that this still haunts us. And even when there are honest misunderstandings, the fact that blacks and Hispanics are picked up more frequently and oftentime for no cause casts suspicion even when there is good cause. And that's why I think the more that we're working with local law enforcement to improve policing techniques so that we're eliminating potential bias, the safer everybody is going to be.


All right, thank you, everybody.


END 8:56 P.M. EDT

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Guest Jesse Lee

I think it is interesting that Republicans and LaRouche are against this idea when it was the Republicans who created the idea.


We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis -- a proposal that could save even more money and ensure long-term financial health for Medicare. Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts.


The MedPAC program. By the way, it was originally a Republican idea. I want to give credit where credit is due. The Republican Congress passed a bill that created a panel of health care experts to make recommendations to Congress on how we could get better quality, lower cost. The problem is every year it would just go on a shelf, and nobody would act on it.

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AARP today reacted to the Senate’s decision to put off voting on health care reform legislation until after the August recess. A statement from AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond follows:


“AARP is disappointed in the failure to reach agreement on passing comprehensive health care reform until after the August recess. The millions of people impacted by high drug costs and those that can’t get adequate health insurance because of age or a pre-existing condition need help now. An August of waiting will not lower costs, increase access or improve quality. Few understand the enormous challenge of this task better than AARP. We have been working to reform health care for more than 50 years and we know this is difficult. But Congress needs to get this done. American families simply cannot afford Washington’s stalemate any longer.”



AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Guest Speaker Pelosi

Republicans have made the cynical political calculation that it's better to attack Democrats and do nothing to address soaring health care costs rather than deliver change for the American people.


Well, I'm not going to let Republicans derail health insurance reform. Recently, one prominent Republican senator even went as far as saying: "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."


As President Obama said in response: "This isn't about politics. It is about a health care system that is breaking American families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy."


America's families, who are struggling to cope with skyrocketing health care expenses, understand the true cost of doing nothing. If we fail to act, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise by $1,800 every year for years to come and insurance companies will make more health care decisions. That's $18,000 per family over the next 10 years.


Last week, House Democrats introduced historic legislation to meet President Obama's goal of comprehensive health care reform. Our legislation lowers health care costs for everyone. Our bill offers greater choice, including the right to keep your own doctor and it includes a public option to compete with private insurers.


Even 'Harry and Louise' from those infamous television ads that attacked President Clinton's health care reform effort have now switched sides. Yet even though Harry and Louise may be on our side now, we must be able to counter the Republican attacks and set the record straight. And, we need your financial support to do it.

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Guest Blue Dog

Here are the thoughts of some Democrats on the subject:


July 23, 2009


The Honorable Max Baucus


United States Senate Committee on Finance

219 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senator Baucus,


As new members of the United States Senate, we are deeply invested in the health care debate and agree that passing sensible reform is essential and cannot wait. There is no doubt about the importance of this issue an we recognize that the opportunity to truly reform our system is a unique one. We applaud you and Senator Grassley for your continued work and dedication toward a bipartisan effort.


We all believe that increasing coverage, improving quality of care, and reining in anuual health care cost increases are vital goals. In the face of exploding debt and deficits, however, we are concerned that too little focus has been given to the need for cost containment. The fact is that the current situation is unsustainable in the long term. With 17% of our GDP currently being used to pay for health care services, we must get health care costs under control so we can compete and lead in the global marketplace. We believe that any final bill must include innovation, hard decisions, and incentives to bend the cost curve.


We hear daily from our constituents about this issue; many of them are concerned that we are not doing enough to control costs. We strongly urge the Senate Finance Committee to continue to remain centered on realighning incentives to stabilize health care costs. We stand ready to serve and to help you and the Senate Finance Committee to craft a bill that bends the health care cost curve, provides affordable coverage, and rewards value-added services. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.




Mark R. Warner

Michael F. Bennet

Mark Begich

Mark Udall

Jeanne Shaheen

Kay R. Hagan

Roland W. Burris

Tom Udall

Jeff Merkley

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Guest Tony Perkins

ObamaCare will enable the Washington liberals to use your taxes to turn their entire anti-life agenda-from unrestricted abortion on demand to euthanasia-into national health care policy. That's moral disaster No. 1.


And because federal taxes will pay for treatment and medicine, ObamaCare will give federal bureaucrats life-and-death power to decide who's worthy of care . . . and who's not. This happens every day in England . . . a "model" for the U.S.


Now, ask yourself: When you--or your child or elderly parent--need medicine or treatment, how will the government classify you: WORTHY OR NOT?


That's moral disaster No. 2. Moral disaster No. 3 is:


ObamaCare's arrogant assault on religious freedom!


Pro-life health care professionals will lose their careers unless they set aside their convictions to perform tax-paid abortions and provide "morning after" pills.


Tax-and-Death. Your taxes paying for the Left's deadly agenda. Help stop it now!


You and I have a moral obligation to fight back.


As people of faith, we cannot allow our government to victimize the very people God commands us to care for. And that's why FRC has developed a campaign to expose and stop President Obama's "Tax-and-Death" plan to nationalize your health care.


Add more health care policy experts to our FRC team.

Examine the massive ObamaCare blueprint, pick apart its details, and expose all the dangers posed to your faith, family, and freedom.

Help FRC promote affordable, morally sound health care-that avoids waiting lines for your family . . . and tax-funding of sin such as abortion.

Deliver authoritative position papers that will open the eyes of Congress.

Build a broad coalition to take our family-friendly health care principles to Congress to defend your values-and your family's health care-in this urgent battle.

Flood the media with television and radio appearances and ads, newspaper op-eds, and press conferences to advance and defend your values.

The battle is fast and furious. Congressional liberals say the final ObamaCare draft will be ready for President Obama to sign this fall . . . some even want it by mid-August.


FRC has been advancing the family in Washington, DC and across the nation for 26 years, but we don't have one minute to lose.

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Guest philip_*

Health Insurance Companies have had it so good for the past 25 years, it is time to give them competition and keep them honest !!


When I saw the Profits made by the Insurance Companies since 2003 I was absolutely amazed. It seemed like every year my company plan cost went up anywhere from 10 to 30%.

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With Obamacare on the ropes, there will be a temptation for opponents to let up on their criticism, and to try to appear constructive, or at least responsible. There will be a tendency to want to let the Democrats' plans sink of their own weight, to emphasize that the critics have been pushing sound reform ideas all along and suggest it's not too late for a bipartisan compromise over the next couple of weeks or months.


My advice, for what it's worth: Resist the temptation. This is no time to pull punches. Go for the kill.




Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) distanced himself from Kristol's advice to "go for the kill," worrying that "there have been some Republicans who haven't been looking at the polls." Specifically, Grassley referred to a poll showing that if health reform fails, "voters would assign blame 30 percent to the health industry, 22 to Republicans, 11 percent to Democrats and only 4 percent to Obama."


The following is an unrehearsed interview with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, speaking to you live from Washington. Participating in today's public affairs program are Scott Jackson with KMCD Radio in Fairfield and Randy Cauthron with the Spencer Daily Reporter in Spencer. The first question will be from Scott Jackson


CAUTHRON: Last night, President Obama had his talk on the health care situation. I know that there is pressure to get a bill passed here in the next coming weeks, trying to get things done.


What is your philosophy regarding this particular bill? Is it a good bill? Do we know enough about it? And is this really the direction the country needs to take in terms of getting involved in the private industry of medicine?


GRASSLEY: Yes, well, one of my goals is to make sure we don't have the federal government take over health care. And I'll tell you about my activities in one of these venues. But you want to remember that there are three venues. There's two bills out. There's a Pelosi bill out, and then there's Senator Kennedy's bill out. These are both out of committees. And both of those are tending in that direction of having more government takeover of -- of health insurance and health care. And I'm not for that. And so I'm still working on the third venue. And I wasn't a part of the other two. So I'm only a part of the one coming out of the Finance Committee.


I'm working with Senator Baucus, who's a Democrat. And there's three Republicans and three Democrats that are negotiating the bill. And one of the things that really would lead to a government takeover that we have been able to stop in the Senate Finance Committee -- and then, of course, the question comes, will we be able to, when it's merged with the other two proposals, will we be able to hold our ground on this issue?


But this is an issue of a government-run health insurance company. And we feel that that's going to lead us to a government takeover of health insurance, because the government is not a competitor.


A government is a predator. And from that standpoint, with the power to tax, the power to destroy, we have think-tanks in town here, like the Lewin Group, as an example, and I think they're respected for their health care research, they say 120 million people will go into that government program. Well, then that's going to destroy private health insurance for everybody else, because you've got a smaller pool left over, and pretty soon premiums will go up, and pretty soon other people get into the government-run program, and pretty soon you have the government running everything, like it is in Canada. And there's denial and delay of care in Canada.


And you have a situation where -- just one example. You've got to wait three months to get an MRI. I could go anywheres in the state of Iowa and get an MRI tomorrow, if I needed one. And so if you've got a headache, you don't want to wait three months to find out if you've got a brain tumor, so that's why a lot of people come to the United States for health care.


So I could address a lot more about health care reform, but the one question you asked -- should the government be taking over more of our health care reform? No. But it would happen under the Pelosi bill. It would happen under the Kennedy bill. And I don't think it's going to happen under the Baucus-Grassley bill. It is assuming we reach a final agreement on everything that's in it, and I've only talked about probably 5 percent of the -- of the -- of the issues that are involved with it.


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Guest Daren

For those of you who are interested, and you should all be interested if you care about your family and the future of this country, here is the entire text of Obama's health care bill: http://rightsoup.com/house-health-care-bill/


This is not about our differing politics or beliefs, this about about legal language and reality.


Please note the following:



“Pg 22 of the Health Care Bill MANDATES that Fed Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self-insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123- THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.


Pg 42 - The “Health Choices Commissioner” will choose your HC Benefits for you. You have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152- HC will be provided to ALL non-US citizens, illegal or otherwise.

Pg 53- Severability (KEY GEM)

“If any provision of the Act, or any application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the provisions of this Act and the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected.”

Pg 58 - Govt will have real-time access to all individual’s finances & a National ID Healthcard will be issued!

Pg 59 lines 21-24- Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for electronic funds transfer

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community organizations (ACORN).

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange to bring private HC plans under Govt control.

=0 A

PG 84 Sec 203 - Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 - Specs for Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!

PG 91 Lines 4-7- Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example: Translation for illegal aliens

Pg 95 Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals. for Govt HC plan.

PG 85 Line 7 - Specs of Benefit Levels For Plans. #AARP members- Your Health care WILL be rationed

PG 102 Lines 12-18- Medicaid-Eligible Individual will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice.

pg 124 lines 24-25 No company can sue GOVT for price fixing. No “judicial review” against Govt Monopoly.

pg 127 Lines 1-16- RE: Doctors- The Govt will tell YOU what you can make.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan. NO CHOICE

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their fam ilies.

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer w/ payroll $400k & above who doesn’t provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.

PG 150 Lines 9-13- Biz w payroll between 251k & 400k that doesn’t provide pub. opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn’t have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 Any NONRESIDENT Alien is EXEMPT from individual taxes. (Americans will pay)

Pg 195 -Officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans financial/personal records

PG 203 Line 14-15- “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it actualy says that.

Pg 239 Line 14-24-Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor will be affected. Expendable.

Pg 241 Line 6-8- Doctors, doesn’t matter what specialty you have, you’ll all be paid the same.

PG 253 Line 10-18 Govt sets value of Dr’s time, professional judgment, etc. Literally sets the value of humans.

PG 265 Sec 1131-Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries

PG 268 Sec 1141- Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs.

PG 272 SEC. 1145- TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151- The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems “preventable re-admissions.”

Pg 298 Lines 9-11- Doctors, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission? Govt will penalize you.

Pg 317 L 13-20- PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Drs. what/how much they can own.

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand.

pg 321 2-13: Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required.

Pg335 Lines 16-25, Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates establishment of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing.

Pg 341 Lines 3-9: Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcin g people into Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people! WTF. My sister has downs syndrome!!

Pg 379 Sec 1191- Govt creates more bureaucracy - “Telehealth Advisory Committee.” Can you say HC by phone?

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates “Advanced Care Planning Consultations.”

PG 425 the Federal Government will require EVERYONE who is on Social Security to undergo a counseling session every 5 years with the objective being that they will explain to them just how to end their own life earlier.

Pg 425 Lines 17-19: Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: Govt provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in death.

PG 427 Lines 15-24: Govt mandates program for orders for end of life. The Govt has a say in how your life ends.

Pg 429 Lines 1-9: An “advanced care planning consult” will be used frequently as patients health deteriorates</ span>

PG 429 Lines 10-12: “advanced care consultation” may include an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from the Government.

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15- The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life.

Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services = Non profit organizations.

Page 472 Lines 14-17: PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment to a community-based org.

PG 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Govt into your marriage.

Pg 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services.”



And that’s less than half of the 1000+ page bill!


As you can plainly see above, this is not about our health-care, it is about the loss of our freedoms and the undermining of the POWER OF THE STATES.


Please take the time to read the bill and confirm the above.




http:// rightsoup.com/twittering-obamacare-horrors-in-the-bill/

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Guest Queens78

Where is health care and retirement benefits a right under the Constitution? Why should I have to pay for the care of some schmuck I don't even know.

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