Posted on 11 Jan 2010
President Obama said Saturday that Americans would see immediate benefits from a landmark overhaul of the nation's health insurance system, and he urged Congress to reconcile swiftly differences on the legislation so it could be signed into law in the coming weeks.
"Once I sign health insurance reform into law, doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less,” Mr. Obama said. “All told, these changes represent the most sweeping reforms and toughest restrictions on insurance companies that this country has ever known.”
In his weekly Saturday address, Mr. Obama highlighted elements of the plan that would take effect soon after enactment of the bill.
He said people with pre-existing illnesses would be able to buy affordable insurance, children with pre-existing conditions would no longer be denied coverage and small-business owners who could not afford to cover employees would receive tax credits to buy insurance.
“What every American should know is that once I sign health insurance reform into law, there are dozens of protections and benefits that will take effect this year,” Mr. Obama said.
Most of the proposed changes in the bill would not take effect until 2014, but the president used his weekly address to try to raise the urgency for the legislation.
The competing versions of the plan in the House and Senate would require most Americans to get health insurance and would provide subsidies for those who could not afford it.
But significant differences remain over how to accomplish that goal, including what taxes would be raised.
In his address, the president said the health insurance overhaul was needed to improve the economic fortunes for the nation’s middle class.
“We need to rebuild our economy in such a way that our families can feel a measure of security again,” Mr. Obama said.