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Why Obama is Right on Health Care

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Marc H. Morial

On September 9, before a joint session of Congress, President Obama made his most detailed and impassioned case to date in support of legislation to fix our broken health care system and at long last make health insurance affordable and accessible to every American.

In summary, the President’s plan will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will lower the cost of health care for families, businesses and our government.

If you have health insurance, the President’s plan will prevent insurance companies from denying you coverage due to a pre-existing condition. It will also put a cap on out of pocket expenses so people don’t go broke when they get sick. It will ensure that all Americans have access to free preventive services like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests to improve health and save money.

And it protects Medicare and closes the so-called prescription drug “donut hole” which has resulted in an average of $,4,080 in out of pocket costs for beneficiaries who reach a coverage limit and who lack another source of insurance.

If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance, half of whom are people of color, the President’s plan creates a new insurance marketplace – the Exchange – that allows people without health insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices. It provides new tax credits to help individuals buy insurance and to help small businesses cover their employees. It offers new low-cost coverage through a national “high-risk” pool to protect people with pre-existing conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created. And it offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured who can’t afford coverage with a real choice.

The President also sought to dispel a number of myths, lies and distortions that have fueled so much misinformation and confusion about his plan. The National Urban League shares his outrage at the deliberate attempts to defeat reform through the spreading of outright falsehoods. That is why on the morning of the President’s speech, I joined members of the Congressional Black Caucus and NAACP president, Ben Jealous in a Capitol Hill press conference to help set the record straight. We made it clear, as the President did later in the evening, that the plan would not create so-called “death panels” with the power to kill off senior citizens; coverage will not be extended to illegal immigrants; and no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.

Finally the public option, which we strongly support, is not a “government takeover” as some have irresponsibly claimed. It would be an essential option to hold down costs. It simply increases competition. That is the very essence of capitalism.

America stands alone among industrialized nations in not affording its citizens comprehensive health insurance. We have been fighting this battle for over a century. Now is the time to get the job done.

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