Obama calls for honest debate on health proposal

He accused insurance companies of putting limits on bene- fits, raising costs, and being “simply dishonest” about his proposal.

He charged the right-wing Republicans of using scare tactics to turn the public against his reforms.

He also urged citizens to take a realistic view of what could be accomplished in the face of well-organised opposition from the deeply entrenched health care interests and Republicans.

“The truth is I want to be completely honest here. There is no perfect, painless silver bullet out there that solves every problem, gives everyone perfect health care, for free.”
He called for “honest” debate about his proposal. Detractors have charged him with seeking to establish “death panels” to decide who should receive expensive treatment and who should not.

“What you can’t do... is start saying things like we want to set up death panels to pull the plug on Grandma,” he stated, observing that he had last year lost his own grandmother, who raised him and to whom he was particularly close.

The reference is to a provision, now dropped, for the creation of panels to review cases involving elderly or terminally ill people who could receive compensation for consulting specialists dealing with “end of life counselling”.

Obama, who visited Yellowstone National Park with his wife and daughters on Saturday, has been campaigning while holidaying in beauty spots in the west.

His health care proposal has come under challenge over the past few weeks, with Republicans claiming that he seeks to impose “socialised medicine” based on the British national health system.

Socialism

For many US citizens, any programme that involves federal government control and expenditure amounts to “socialism”, a concept that frightens them.

Special interest groups tied to the lucrative health industry have stepped up their efforts to scuttle Obama’s proposal this month while Congress is in recess and legislators are back home consulting constituents.

Obama’s campaign team has also reassembled and launched a wide ranging effort to reach voters directly through e-mails, twitter and face book.

He is complementing the efforts of this team with his town hall appearances where he arrives in his shirtsleeves — as a representative of the “common man” — and answers questions from participants, who are mostly friendly.

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