This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
This week, President Obama continued to
push for health reform as debate over his plan intensified. He still wants
legislation to sign into law by the end of the year. But he had to give up hope
for both houses of Congress to pass bills before their August break.
care is one-sixth of the economy. Yet an estimated forty-six million Americans
are uninsured. The United States is the only major industrial country that does
not guarantee health care for all. The government provides coverage only for
old people and the poor.
insured workers get their coverage through their jobs. But not all jobs offer
insurance. And policies can be costly even when employers share the costs.
One proposal is to offer the
choice of a government insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.
Another proposal is to require employers with more than twenty-five workers to
offer insurance or pay a penalty. Also, insurance companies could no longer
deny coverage to people who are already sick.
President Obama wants to expand health
coverage to all Americans and, at the same time, control costs. This week he completed
six months in office. He held a nationally broadcast news conference Wednesday
night that centered on health care. Why the hurry to pass a bill?
BARACK OBAMA: "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 do not act, fourteen thousand Americans will continue to lose their
health insurance every single day."
But the president faces resistance over the price of his
plan, which could cost a trillion dollars
over ten years. Also, opponents say the government might restrict people's
health care. The president says the goal is for patients to get the best care,
not just the most expensive care.
he says it can all be done without adding to the federal budget deficit. He says
about two-thirds of the cost can be paid for with money that is currently being
"wasted," he says, in federal health care programs.
Congress will have to
decide how to finance the remaining costs. But the president says he will not
let health reform be paid for -- in his words -- "on the backs of
Higher-earning families are another
issue. Proposals to raise their taxes to help pay for the plan face objections,
and not just from the Republican minority in Congress. Critics include House
Democrats newly elected from wealthier communities. And they include the Blue
Dogs, a fifteen-year-old coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats in
the House of Representatives.
Opinion polls show that the majority of
Americans want health reform. Forty-four percent in a USA Today/Gallup Poll
released this week approved of Barack Obama's handling of the issue. But fifty
forty-nine percent disapproved of the president's handling of the economy. That
was compared to an approval rate of fifty-five percent in May.
that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve