WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told Congress on Wednesday “the time for bickering is over” and called for quick action on a comprehensive healthcare overhaul that would dramatically transform the U.S. health system and insurance market.
He said his overhaul would cut healthcare costs, improve care, regulate insurers to help protect consumers and expand coverage to more than 46 million uninsured Americans. He repeated his pledge that the proposal, which would cost $900 billion over 10 years, would not increase the budget deficit. Obama hoped the speech would rejuvenate his flagging push for an overhaul of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system, which has bogged down in Congress amid a flood of criticism and disputes.
REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES BOUSTANY, OFFICIAL REPUBLICAN
“It’s clear the American people want health care reform, but they want their elected leaders to get it right. Most Americans wanted to hear the President tell Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, Majority Leader (Harry) Reid and the rest of Congress that it’s time to start over on a common-sense, bipartisan plan focused on lowering the cost of health care while improving quality. That’s what I heard over the past several months in talking to thousands of my constituents. Replacing your family’s current health care with government-run health care is not the answer. In fact, it’ll make health care much more expensive.”
BARRY RAND, CEO, AARP
“We applaud the president’s effort to keep health care reform moving forward. Tonight, he laid out thoughtful goals for health care reform. We share many of those goals and we will continue to work for our members and their families to ensure health care reform meets their needs.
ANTHONY TARRICONE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR
JUSTICE, A TRIAL LAWYERS’ GROUP
“The pilot programs outlined by President Obama will require more detail. But the focus must be on reducing medical errors and improving patient safety. Over 98,000 people are killed every year by preventable medical errors. Reducing accountability won’t improve health care.”
“Trial attorneys see first-hand the effects medical errors have on patients and their families. We should keep these injured people in mind as the debate moves forward.”
SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONELL
“The President spent a lot of time tonight talking about what will happen if Congress does nothing about healthcare even though there’s already a strong bipartisan agreement on the need for reform. The false choice between a massive government takeover, or no reform at all, is one that has been soundly rejected across the country.”
SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID
“Now that the President has spoken, those who have opposed reform have a choice to make. They can continue to spread falsehoods about reform as they defend the status quo or they can step up to the plate and offer genuine ideas to strengthen the proposals before Congress.
“We all know that the cost of inaction is too great and that doing nothing is simply not an option. As the President said tonight, ‘Now is the season for action.’ It’s time for both sides of the aisle to come together for common sense reform that relieves the burden of skyrocketing costs that are breaking the backs of American families.”
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CHRIS DODD
“We have come too far to turn back now. And I believe that this Congress will leave behind the cheap politics of a hot summer and get back to doing the job we were sent here to do.”
REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA
“Up to this point, negotiations on health care reform have been driven by a left-wing push toward a public option and an expensive government health care takeover. The American people have rejected this partisan approach.
“After tonight’s speech, and months of unmet promises about working with Republicans on health care, I’m not convinced that the President fully understands the concern Americans have about losing health care choice or their existing coverage.”
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