Gov't Seeks Public Opinion on Healthcare

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The White House says it will consider all opinions when it comes to drafting new healthcare legislation.

On Thursday, everyone from doctors to insurance companies joined lawmakers on Capital Hill to pitch their ideas.

On the campaign trail, candidate Obama promised to pass healthcare reform in his first term. Now, Presdient Obama says he'll do it within his first year.

"Healthcare reform will not wait, it must not wait another year," Obama said.

The nation's dire economy could be just the right climate to pass such a radical legislation. A new poll shows more than half of Americans put off prescribed medical care during the last year, 16 percent of that for major procedures.

Endowments and philanthrophy are down so hospitals have less to draw on and the leading cause of personal bankruptcies is unpaid medical bills. A number that continues to rise alongside unemployment figures is the 48 million Americans who are are uninsured.

In the past century six administrations have tried and failed to pass some form of universal health care.

But now, the unprecedented number of uninsured, coupled with the skyrocketing costs for those who are insured, could be the one-two punch that allows President Obama to do what his predecessors could not.

His plan is to insure all Americans by offering anyone roughly the same health insurance federal workers get and those who can't afford it will get a subsidy.

Small businesses would have to offer their employees health insurance, but the government would pay up to 50 percent of that cost.

An emphasis on prevention, estimated to save families $2,500 a year, and computerizing medical records is expected to save billions in administrative costs.

These savings, plus a tax on the rich, are the funds the president plans to use to pay for the $634 billion plan over the next ten years.

"We're going down the path of having government run healthcare of having to raise taxes, borrow more money and spend more money on top of this to do this," Rep. Paul Ryan said.

Other opposition: pharmaceutical companies which spend millions lobbying against healthcare reform.

These are the same companies the president accuses of charging the U.S. double what they charge Canada and Europe for the same medicine and spend more on marketing and advertising then research and development.

Healthcare reform is also opposed by insurance companies and labor unions, which like the pharmaceutical companies, wield enormous influence with lawmakers.

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