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`We did really well` on health care reform: Obama

Last Updated: Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 10:15

Washington: On the eve of an unusual Christmas Eve Senate vote to pass health care reform legislation, President Barack Obama has said he is "very proud" of the overhaul lawmakers are set to pass.
"I`d say we did really well," Obama told National Public Radio in an interview.

"I actually think that, considering how difficult the process has been, this is an end product that I am very proud of and is greatly worthy of support," he added.

US senators are scheduled to vote Thursday morning at 7:00 am (1200 GMT) on the Senate version of the reform legislation. The House of Representatives passed their health care bill in November.

But Obama and the Democratic party have come under fire, particularly from the liberal wing of the party, for bowing to the demands of conservative Democrats and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman.

They are incensed that the Senate bill does not include the so-called public option, a government-administered health care plan that many believe is key to forcing private insurers to offer better coverage.

Obama rejected that criticism Wednesday, saying the overhaul would still extend new and meaningful coverage to millions of Americans.

"This notion, I know, among some on the left that somehow this bill is not everything that it should be... I think, just ignores the real human reality that this will help millions of people and end up being the most significant piece of domestic legislation at least since Medicare and maybe since Social Security." Related article: Key provisions in US Senate health overhaul

Republican opposition to the overhaul has been sustained and unified and has left Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid no margin for error in securing the votes he needs to pass the legislation.

Obama described the opposition as "more politically driven and ideologically driven than substantive" but said the strength of resistance to the legislation had not stopped the development of a bill that contains important improvements.

It is legislation "that provides 30 million people coverage, provides enormous protections to families... that is deficit-neutral, that is geared towards reducing costs over the long term, that has huge increases in prevention and wellness, sets up additional community health clinics across the country for people who have trouble accessing medicine," he said.

The Senate is expected to pass the legislation Thursday morning, before lawmakers leave town for a holiday break.

The Senate bill will later be reconciled with the House version before both chambers vote on a compromise text that, if approved, will go to Obama for his signature sometime early next year.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, December 24, 2009 - 10:15

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