Obama Sees an Emerging Consensus on Health Care Reform
President Barack Obama on Saturday used his weekly address to declare an “unprecedented consensus— on the health care overhaul, pointing to positive statements about his proposals by Republicans to suggest bipartisan support.“Earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole [Kan.] and Dr. Bill Frist [Tenn.], himself a cardiac surgeon,— Obama said. “Dr. Louis Sullivan, secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform, as does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush,— he said. “These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.—Nevertheless, Obama has obtained no support for his plan from Republicans in Congress, though he is working feverishly to convince Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to vote for the Senate Finance Committee bill.Obama accused Republican lawmakers of opposing him for political gain. “There are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo,— Obama said. The president praised the Finance bill, which will be voted on by the panel next week.“It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections,— he said. “And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.—In the Republican response, Sen. George LeMieux of Florida launched a wide-ranging assault on the Democratic plans, charging that they are being drawn up in secret, cost way too much, would harm Medicare, would damage the states, and would raise taxes and increase health care costs.“Right now, Senate Democrats and White House officials are behind closed doors crafting their final health care overhaul proposal,— LeMieux said.“While the Democrats in Congress have not yet provided the actual language of their proposed law, we do know enough for Americans to be concerned,— he continued. “We know it takes nearly $500 billion out of Medicare funding for seniors and requires our states to shoulder billions more in health care costs, which they can ill-afford to do.—LeMieux continued, “Taking money from a program already in financial trouble is not responsible — it’s not fair to our seniors who paid into the program, and it’s not fair to our children and grandchildren who will be burdened with massive debt obligations.—LeMieux charged that the legislation emerging in the Senate would “dramatically expand— Medicaid and foist a “huge burden— onto the states.“Piling on additional obligations would mean even more severe cuts to roads, schools, law enforcement and other essential state services,— he said.