Obama launches new push for healthcare overhaul
Washington: President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his pitch for final congressional passage of a U.S. healthcare overhaul and promised Americans they will begin reaping the benefits soon after he signs a bill into law.
As Obama's fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate struggle to merge their healthcare bills into one, the president used his weekly radio address to try to ease lingering public doubts over his top legislative priority.
The President stepped back into the center of the healthcare debate after being preoccupied for much of his first week back from vacation in Hawaii with fallout over the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. airliner.
"We are on the verge of passing health insurance reform that will finally offer Americans the security of knowing they'll have quality, affordable health care whether they lose their job, change jobs, move or get sick," he said.
Latching onto widespread public resentment against big insurers, Obama promised, "The worst practices of the insurance industry will be banned forever."
While acknowledging it will take a few years to fully implement the reforms, Obama insisted, "What every American should know is that once I sign health insurance reform into law, there are dozens of protections and benefits that will take effect this year."
He said the more immediate changes would include enabling uninsured Americans with pre-existing medical conditions to purchase affordable coverage, prohibiting insurance companies from imposing lifetime and annual limits on care and giving small businesses tax credits to buy coverage for employees.