Obama Clarifies Health Care Options In Speech Tonight
U.S. President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) regarding the question of a government health care reform.
Earlier today, the Senate Finance Committee "Gang of Six" unveiled their own health care reform proposal. This means there are now three major bill options - one proposed by the House Committee on Education and Labor together with Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, one by the Committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP), and one by the Senate Finance Committee.
Opponents of the proposed health care reform have claimed it will lead the country toward "socialized medicine", or the government taking over health care decisions. The fact remains that the United States is the only industrialized country that does not offer its citizens a universal health care alternative. According to the New York Times, many Republicans are opposing the Democratic President Obama as a political strategy, instead of focusing on what the bill would entail. Analysts compares the debate to the time Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, and was labeled a communist.
On Tuesday, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin wrote in the Wall Street Journal that President Obama's health care reform would allow bureaucrats to form "death panels" that were to make decisions regarding life or death health-care matters. This concept has been debunked many times.
The proposed health care reform is a top priority for the Obama administration. It features a $635 billion fund set aside for financing health care over a ten year period. Currently, the United States spends over $2 trillion on health care each year, a figure which is expected to rise to $4 trillion in just eight years. This amounts to around 16% of the country's whole economy, and $8,000 per person. Still, millions of Americans lack coverage.
Some of the proposed reforms include:
- Coverage for Americans who lose their jobs
- Increased health care for children
- Digitizing health care records
- Flexible coverage independent of your job
- Universality and fiscal stability
- Reduced costs of prescription drugs
- Reforming the system to encourage physicians to provide higher-quality care
Six in 10 younger Americans support the plan; six in 10 senior citizens oppose it.
The public option, a crucible for liberal Democrats and anathema to Republicans and many conservative Democrats, has opened a chasm in the Democratic Party that threatens to sink the health reform effort. Obama's chief task in his speech tonight will be to bridge the gap.
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Clearlake, California, United States