Obama Gives Specifics on Health Care Plan

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President Barack Obama called lawmakers to take action on health care reform Wednesday evening and assured congressional members that Democrats and Republicans currently agree on 80 percent of the proposed measure.
During the nationally televised speech to a special joint session of Congress, the president also provided specifics on his priorities.

He said his plan will help both the insured and the uninsured.  Obama called on lawmakers to put aside politics for the sake of achieving reform.

"The time for bickering is over," Obama said. The time for games has passed.  Now is the season for action. 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."

The president said his plan will not require the insured to change coverage, and it will not allow insurance companies to drop coverage.
Obama said the uninsured must carry basic health insurance, purchased through an insurance exchange. One key aspect of the exchange is the public option.

"This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance," Obama said. "It's how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it's time to give every American the same opportunity that we've given ourselves."
Obama made it a point to single out seniors in his address saying he will protect Medicare and he courted conservatives. 

He said his plan will not fund abortions and federal conscience laws will remain in place for those in the medical field.
Despite the president's overtures, Republicans ceded no ground in their response.

"Replacing your family's current healthcare with government-run healthcare is not the answer," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.
The real test is whether the president's speech will change minds among divided congressional members, and a divided public.

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Heather Sells

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