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Obama, McMorris Rodgers Square Off Over Health Care

President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to make yet another appeal for his health care overhaul plans, this time focusing on what he says will be the benefits for small businesses.

“Because they lack the bargaining power that large businesses have and face higher administrative costs per person, small businesses pay up to 18 percent more for the very same health insurance plans costs that eat into their profits and get passed on to their employees,— Obama said.

“Under the reform plans in Congress, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange,’ a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

Obama, who held a nationally televised news conference on Wednesday to add weight to his campaign to advance health care reform this year, added that small businesses would also receive a tax cut to help them insure their employees.

The National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s largest small-business trade association, is opposed to House reform legislation because of what it says is “an employer mandate with a punitive payroll tax on our nation’s job creators.—

Delivering the Republican response, House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) emphasized what Republicans say will be limits on patients’ ability to choose their health care treatments that will result from Democratic proposals.

“I believe it’s much more important to do the right thing, which means reducing skyrocketing health care costs while protecting patients’ ability to choose the right treatments,— she said. “Unfortunately, the Democrats’ health care plan — crafted largely behind closed doors — isn’t the right thing. It’s a prescription for disaster, one that will put Washington bureaucrats in charge of your family’s personal medical decisions. … As a mother, I want to make those decisions for my son with a doctor we choose.—

White House officials and Democrats say the government insurance option will be only one of many and that those who are happy with their insurance will be able to keep it.

The House and Senate are still searching for consensus on overhaul legislation. House Democrats are holding out hope that they could consider a bill on the floor before the August recess, but the Senate has pushed off consideration until after the break.

House Democrats are trying to reach a deal with conservative Blue Dogs on their plan, while a bipartisan group of Finance Committee members, led by Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) tries to forge consensus in that chamber.