WASHINGTON (KTRE) - Calling it the toughest insurance reform in history, President Obama urged Congress to vote its conscious. "If you honestly believe this is not a serious improvement over the status quo, then vote no." He also let the Congress know that he feels the pain they feel in considering this legislation.
Speaking on Capitol Hill in an address to the Democratic Caucus , the President outlined four reasons this health care reform legislation should pass. He said it's "a patients bill of rights on steroid," putting into place a system that works for the people.
President Obama said health care reform creates a marketplace for people to have a choice and competition. He cited a finding by the Congressional Budget Office that said the bill would lower comparable health care plan rates by 14-20%. The bill would provide tax credits for those who cannot afford health care. And would decrease the deficit by over 1.3 trillion dollars over 20 years. It will be the biggest reduction in the deficit since 1993.
The President said the bill is not perfect and will not solve every issue with heath care. But feels it's the single most important step taken in health care since medicare. He said he believed "good policy is good politics." At least 216 votes are needed to pass this legislation.
As the House Rules Committee works Saturday to set the terms for floor debate and a final vote on Sunday, the Republicans are readying themselves for a fierce floor flight. So far, all House Republicans have vowed to vote against the bill. Some Republicans are vowing to use every procedural move they can to slow the vote. Republicans added to their grievances with the health care bill today, complaining about the cost and reach of the bill.
As House Democrats prepare to vote on health care reform, tea party activists are holding protests with "kill the bill," being the common theme. During a protest outside the Capitol Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX) addressed the crowd to warn about perceived tyranny and content of the bill. King claimed it's a "fact" that the bill "does fund abortion" and "does fund illegals." Gohmert elicited cheers from the crowd when he said "I brought the bill that's being talking about. Now I don't want to offend anybody, I'm sure that there are people here who think abortion is okay and I don't want to make you sick, but I brought an abortion to show you today."
In fact, the bill "very clearly" does not fund abortion. If a health insurance carrier chooses to provide abortion coverage, the bill reads that "the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to any of the following for purposes of paying for [abortion] services," referring to federal funding mechanisms, such as subsidies to help people afford coverage.
Last summer, Rep. Gohmert signed what he called a health care reform pledge that in part stated, "Government-takeover of healthcare will require rationing services, denying lifesaving treatments, wait-lists for necessary care spanning months and even years, a loss in medical specialization, and stifling the innovation that makes our healthcare the best in the world..."
Some opponents of the bill said the bill is too costly for everyone and too costly for the government. They predict ten years of "huge tax increases" to fund the measure.
In closing, President Obama said we have been debating health care for decades, we've been debating health care for more than a year and now it's time to take action.
The historic vote on health care reform is set to take place on Sunday. Some Democratic party leaders now say they feel confident that they have the necessary votes to pass health care reform, however, many opponents of the bill still say it will be a tough fight.
Find out what's in the final health care bill (H.R. 4872-Reconciliation Act of 2010) that Democrats unveiled Thursday:
Keep up with the health care bill debate here at KTRE.com and on KTRE's East Texas News. We also want to hear from you. Leave your comments in the section below, on Facebook and Twitter.