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Obama Stands Firm on Health Insurance Reform

President promises stability, security to those with coverage, and options for those without.


By Kevin Hart

Thursday, September 10, 2009 --Saying that “the time for games has passed,” President Barack Obama laid out specifics Wednesday night for a sweeping plan to reform the health insurance industry in the United States. Obama’s plan calls for greater cost control and protections for those who already have insurance, and new, affordable options for millions of Americans who currently go without – notions that are supported by the National Education Association.

“Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do,” Obama said to a standing ovation. “Now is the time to deliver on health care.”

For Obama, delivering on health care means ensuring that people who already have coverage continue to see their doctors and get care without interference. He simply wants to make their insurance work better, he said.

To that end, Obama proposed a plan that would stop insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, remove arbitrary caps on how much an insurer will spend each year, and provide incentives for preventative care, such as cancer screenings.

For people without insurance, and small businesses who struggle to afford insurance for their employees, Obama proposed a market exchange system that would allow them to pool their resources to bring down costs. He also said he believed a public option was valuable for helping people who would still not be able to get insurance under a market-driven system.

“I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice,” Obama said. “And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.”

Obama also supported requiring people to heave health insurance, in the same way drivers are required to have automobile insurance. This will keep health care providers from getting stuck with large, unpaid bills that will drive up costs for everyone else.

Obama also stressed that federal health insurance reform would be paid for and not add to the country’s deficit.

The National Education Association supports health insurance reform that would provide quality health care to all people. NEA also believes that quality health care is vital to student achievement, as millions of school days are missed each year due to preventable illnesses, particularly in low-income schools.

"NEA members in every congressional district watched this summer as too many members of Congress played politics with their best chance for access to quality, affordable health care coverage. The time for games and gimmicks has passed,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “The NEA agrees with the president that a not for profit public option is essential to holding insurance companies accountable to provide quality affordable health care coverage for all, and we will continue to work hard for a health insurance reform bill that includes a robust public option.”



Click image to watch excerpts of President Obama's address to Congress. Source: CNN


RELATED LINKS

Statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on Obama's Health Care Address

Read the Full Text of Obama's Speech