With three major networks broadcasting live, President Obama stood on Wednesday night before Congress and tried to seize the last word on health care problem.
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“And I will not accept the status quo as a solution,” Mr. Obama said. “Not this time. Not now.”
For many viewers, it was also Mr. Obama’s first word: the issue has been subsumed in a dizzying blur of testy town halls, speeches, clashing 30-second ads and virulent, endless cable news debates. Or, as he put it, “out of this blizzard of charges and countercharges, confusion has reigned.”
Mr. Obama spoke bluntly and confidently, with his trademark professorial lilt and phrases like “Let me be clear,” but also with honed purpose and more defiance and determination than he has in recent weeks. After invoking the memory of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Obama closed with a passionate, eloquent appeal for common ground. “I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test,” the New York Times reports.
It was also reported, the health care debate in Congress has been plagued for months by misinformation and bickering by Democrats and Republicans trying to define how the changes being proposed would affect hospitals, doctors and patients.
President Obama tried to cut through what he called "this blizzard of charges and counter-charges" in an address to a joint session of Congress.
Here's a closer look at some of his statements in the context of what's happening on Capitol Hill:
The statement: "Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have."
The context: A Gallup Poll report this month showed that 87% of people with private insurance rate the quality of their care as "good" or "excellent." Obama needs to convince those people that the health care system needs change and ease fears they could lose their coverage.
Although it is true that the bills in the House and Senate do not directly force people to change their current coverage, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts some employers may change coverage options, which means some employees would indirectly be forced out of their current plans, the USA Today reports.
News agencies also report, he truthfully stated that nearly all Americans with insurance are at risk of losing it if they lose or change their jobs or run afoul of obscure technical rules. Mr. Obama also accurately stated that Americans spend more per person on health care than residents of any other country but often get worse results and that health care costs are spiraling out of control.
Of course, it is far from certain that Mr. Obama will succeed in overcoming partisanship and achieve a sweeping health care overhaul as he predicted in the speech.
But there is little disagreement that without government action, things stand to get worse.
“Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing,” Mr. Obama said. “Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true,” the New York Times reports.