President Barack Obama called Saturday for immediate action to reform the nation’s health care system, arguing that swift passage of legislation stalled in Congress is needed to counter increasing insurance premiums.
In his weekly radio address, Obama argued that unless Congress acts to reform the insurance system, insurance companies will continue to raise rates.
“If we do not act, they will continue to do this. They will continue to drop people’s coverage when they need it. They will continue to refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions. These practices will continue. That’s why we must act now. That’s why the United States Congress owes the American people an up-or-down vote on health insurance reform,” Obama said.
Obama said the legislation will have immediate affects on Americans, including closing the “doughnut hole” in coverage for seniors and providing small businesses with new tax cuts.
“If we act now, all of this will happen this year. Millions of lives will improve. Some will be saved. Many families and small-business owners will have health insurance for the very first time in their lives. Doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less. This future is within our grasp,” Obama said.
Republicans, however, were having none of Obama’s arguments. In his response address, Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.) — who switched parties last year as a result of the health care debate — continued the GOP refrain that Democrats are attempting to impose a government takeover of the health care system.
“In the next 10 days, Democrats in Washington will try and jam through a massive government takeover of health care. It would raise taxes, slash Medicare benefits and destroy American jobs. It would put federal bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions that should be made by patients and doctors. And it must be stopped,” Griffith said.
Griffith also sought to use his party switch as proof that Democrats have a nefarious agenda to impose a “Washington knows best” approach to the health care system.
“This is no idle observation. I’ve witnessed it firsthand. You see, two Januarys ago, I was sworn into office as an independent, conservative Democrat. But like so many Americans, I became increasingly concerned that the policies being pushed by Democrats in Washington were dangerous for our country and out of step with our values,” Griffith said, adding that, “Given all that’s at stake, I realized that being a voice of dissent and a vote of conscience was not enough. Shortly before Christmas, after much thought and prayer, I decided to align myself with House Republicans.”