Obama hails 'historic' healthcare vote this weekend

US President Barack Obama has hailed a "historic weekend" ahead of a key House of Representatives vote on health reform Sunday. A "yes" vote would bring coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack health care insurance.


AFP - President Barack Obama Friday hailed this weekend's "historic" congressional vote on his health plan as the culmination of a century of struggle, at a euphoric campaign-style rally.

"Right now, we are at the point where we are going to do something historic this weekend," Obama said, two days before a key House of Representatives vote on his sweeping reform plan.

"The time for reform is right now."

The House was expected to cast its verdict on a Senate bill on Sunday and a "yes" vote would enshrine into law comprehensive health care reform, bringing coverage to 32 million Americans who currently lack insurance.

The Senate is then expected to vote on a House-passed package of fixes to the bill which would amend that law.

"In just a few days, a century-long struggle will culminate in an historic vote," Obama said, at a rally at George Mason University, the venue for one of his first-ever presidential campaign events way back in 2007.

"Do not quit, do not give up, we keep on going, we are going to get this done, we are going to make history, we are going to fix health care in America!" he declared, at the end of a rousing speech.

Speaking in an arena, which can hold around 12,000 people, Obama billed the plan as the "toughest" insurance reforms in history and a way to cut the massive US budget deficit.

He also hit out at the media storm around the health care issue, branding Washington reporters as "rock-em, sock-em robots," obsessed with political ups and downs and not the plight of Americans without health insurance.

"Will his presidency be crippled, or will he be the comeback kid? -- that's what they like to talk about," he said, paraphrasing the media buzz.

The bill aims to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who now have none, bringing the world's richest country closer than ever to guaranteeing health insurance for all of its citizens, with 95 percent of Americans covered.

It would enact the most sweeping overhaul of US health care in four decades, aims to end abusive insurance-company practices and curb soaring health care costs that already run double those of other rich countries.

The bill would create new insurance marketplaces starting in 2014 and require most Americans to carry insurance, while offering subsidies to many.

Some of its most popular measures include bans on insurers denying coverage because of pre-existing illnesses, on insurers imposing lifetime caps on coverage and on insurers dropping people from coverage when they get sick.

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