Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

From Paris's Liberation to 'arresting' art in Avignon

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Ferguson riots: Pressure mounts on Obama

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The pen is mightier than the sword'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Requiem for a recorder'

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Russia targets McDonald's over tensions with West

Read more

  • Special report: Supplying Ukraine’s soldiers on the front line

    Read more

  • Israeli air strike kills three top Hamas commanders

    Read more

  • US forces tried to rescue slain reporter from IS captors

    Read more

  • Former Femen activist detained after fighting veiled woman

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Former Irish PM Albert Reynolds dies at 81

    Read more

  • Tensions high in Yemen as Shiite rebel deadline looms

    Read more

  • Thailand coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha voted prime minister

    Read more

  • Deadly street battles hit Ukrainian rebel stronghold

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Brazil’s Silva launches bid after Campos plane crash death

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • US attorney general visits Missouri town after fatal shooting

    Read more

Americas

Obama urges healthcare overhaul

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-16

In an odd comparison with General Motors, US President Barack Obama warned that US would be bankrupt like the US automaker if the healthcare reform is rejected. Obama's plan is to provide all citizens with "affordable" health insurance.

REUTERS - President Barack Obama warned doctors on Monday the U.S. healthcare system was a ticking time bomb and urged them to support his overhaul, which includes a public insurance plan that many of them view with skepticism.
 

Obama took his healthcare campaign to the annual meeting of the influential American Medical Association, which represents 250,000 doctors and has historically been opposed to a bigger government role in healthcare.
 

"If we do not fix our healthcare system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke," Obama said, likening the healthcare system to struggling carmaker General Motors, which has filed for bankruptcy protection.
 

"Make no mistake: the cost of our healthcare is a threat to our economy," said Obama, who wants a healthcare reform bill on his desk by October.
 

"It is a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America," he said.
 

The U.S. healthcare industry costs about $2.5 trillion annually but leaves 46 million Americans uninsured and with
little access to medical care.
 

Obama's speech comes as debate sharpens over elements of the healthcare overhaul being drafted by Congress, including how to pay for the plan and whether it should include a public insurance program to compete with private insurers.
 

Health-related stocks fell more steeply than the 2.13 percent tumble in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday. The Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor index fell 2.95 percent while the Amex Pharmaceutical index fell 2.85 percent.
 

The chief executive of Aetna Inc, the No. 3 health insurer, told Reuters that Obama's remarks were a "step in the right direction." CEO Ronald Williams also said Aetna would focus on promoting public-private partnerships as part of reforms.
 

Many Republicans reject a public plan and say there is not enough support in Congress for it. They argue it would ultimately drive private insurers out of business.
 

The AMA also has expressed doubts about any public plan that would be similar to the Medicare program for the elderly. Doctors have struggled for years over Medicare fees that face annual cuts each year by lawmakers.
 

"I understand you are concerned that today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs," Obama said. "These are legitimate concerns, but ones, I believe, that can be overcome."
 

After hearing Obama's speech, the AMA said it was premature to judge the administration without knowing details of how it planned to change the health insurance system.
 

"What you heard today was a call for a thoughtful analysis of all the options," AMA President Dr Nancy Nielsen said.
 

MALPRACTICE SUITS
 

Obama received a standing ovation when he raised the issue of doctors being afraid to practice because of lawsuits, but there were a few boos seconds later when he said he did not support caps on malpractice awards.
 

Instead, Obama called for exploring a range of ideas to scale back "excessive defensive medicine."
 

Doctors have long complained they have to shoulder high malpractice insurance premiums because of the lack of limits on malpractice suits, and those costs are often passed on to patients in the form of higher fees.
 

Obama said a public healthcare plan would "inject competition into the healthcare market that forces waste out of the system and keeps the insurance companies honest."
 

He acknowledged that expanding coverage to all Americans would have a short-term cost but stressed it would not add to the deficit in the next decade.
 

But with some estimates putting the cost of healthcare reform at $1.2 trillion, critics say the reforms will only add to the country's growing mountain of debt.
 

The Congressional Budget Office said in a preliminary estimate on Monday that a Senate Democratic healthcare plan -- which closely mirrors Obama's own wishlist -- would add $1 trillion to the deficit over 10 years and still leave millions uninsured.
 

"There are already voices saying the numbers don't add up. They are wrong," Obama said, outlining how he planned to pay for the reforms, including tax increases on wealthier Americans and savings in spending cuts.
 

In Washington, a Senate Republican leader, Jon Kyl, predicted momentum for healthcare reform would slow as the public learns more about Democrats' plans.
 

"He knows momentum will inevitably slow for something that is extraordinarily costly, will deny people coverage that they already have, will ration their healthcare and could provide some kind of government insurance company that is going to
drive out private insurance companies."

Date created : 2009-06-16

COMMENT(S)