Obama Pushes New Health Care Plan

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President Obama chose Wisconsin, not Washington, to talk about the sweeping changes he wants passed by the end of the summer.

But there are challenges ahead, including how to pay for it all.
    
Wherever President Obama goes, the bully pulpit travels with him.  Wednesday the message of passing healthcare reform landing in Greenbay, Wis.

This event is the beginning of a push by the Obama administration to sell Americans on health care. Here's their pitch: reigning in the high price of health care is imperative to the country's economic survival and will make life better for all Americans.

"If we do not act and act soon to bring down costs, it will jeopardize everyone's health care," Obama said.  "If we do not act, every American will feel the consequences. In higher premiums and lower take-home pay."

The White House plan is still in flux but it's beginning to take shape with help from Democrats in Congress.

First, each American would have to have health insurance or face fines.  If you can't afford it, government subsides would help you out if you make under $110,000 a year.

But the big controversy is the creation of a government-run health care plan. It would be an option as part of a health insurance exchange where Americans could shop for the best healthcare plan that fits their needs.

"I also strongly believe that one of the options in the exchange should be a public insurance option - because if the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and help keep prices down," Obama said.

The government plan is a non-starter for Republicans.

"We've seen the government take over banks, insurance companies, automobile companies and now there appears as if there's an effort underway to take over healthcare as well," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The head of the Influential American Medical Association came out Wednesday saying she isn't sold on the government run option either. She thinking changing the private healthcare market is the best way to go.  Small government conservatives are lining up against the plan too.

Michael Tanner with the CATO Institute points to Great Britain as a great example of how government-run healthcare just doesn't work.

"If you come down with cancer in Britain you only have about a 40 percent chance of ever seeing an oncologist," he explained.  "I think that's the type of healthcare system where Americans would never tolerate that sort of rationing."

The president made clear that Americans will not be forced to sign up for the government plan.

"If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor," he said.  "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan."

But the socialism critics say even if a government run plan would only be an option, it would be heading down a dangerous road of a universal single payer system seen now in European countries.  Let the heavy lifting begin.

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