This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
week, President Barack Obama went before Congress and the nation to better
explain his health care proposals. He said they would provide security and
stability to people who have insurance, and make it possible to insure millions
who do not.
would be required to have basic health insurance, the way most states require
automobile insurance. Large businesses would have to either offer their workers
health care or help cover the costs. Insurers could not deny coverage to people
who already have a condition, or cancel coverage if people get sick.
Reaction to the speech suggested
that it may have done more to unite the president's own Democrats than to gain
Republican support. But the Democrats will need party unity if they try to pass
reform legislation on their own.
Democrats support the proposal for a self-supporting government insurance plan to
compete with private ones. The government already insures Americans
who are retired, poor, disabled or military veterans. The president says offering this choice would
keep insurance companies "honest" and lead to better prices and
insurance companies and conservatives in Congress say the so-called public
option would mean unfair competition. Opponents also say it would lead to restrictions
In his speech Wednesday night, President
Obama said the idea is only one part of his plan
and should not be used as an excuse.
BARACK OBAMA: "I will not
waste time with those who have made the calculation that it's better politics
to kill this plan than to improve it. [Applause] I won't stand by while the
special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they
are. If you misrepresent what's in this plan, we will call you out.
estimates the cost of the plan at around nine hundred billion dollars over ten
years, but says it would not add to the federal deficit. Most of it, he says, could
be paid for by reducing waste in the existing health care system.
Census Bureau says more than forty-six million Americans, about fifteen and a
half percent, did not have health insurance last year. On Thursday the
president noted estimates that nearly six million more have joined the
uninsured since the recession intensified last September.
Also Thursday, Mister Obama said he accepted an apology from
Representative Joe Wilson. The South Carolina Republican shouted "You lie!"
during the speech to a rare joint session of Congress.
Three committees in the House of
Representatives and two in the Senate were asked to develop bills. The House
committees have approved versions that will need to be worked into a single bill.
Senate committee has completed action. That leaves the Finance Committee, which
is expected to consider a proposal next week. Three Democrats and three
Republicans have been negotiating a bill for several months.
Vice President Joe Biden says he expects
health care legislation to be completed by November.
Obama notes that it was Theodore Roosevelt who first called for health care
reform nearly a century ago. "I am not the first president to take up this
cause," he said, "but I am determined to be the last."
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by
Brianna Blake. I'm Mario Ritter.