Health reform implementation

Obama vigorously defends healthcare reform: ‘Granny is safe’

In his most vigorous defense of the healthcare law since
Republicans took control of the House, Obama fired back Friday at GOP claims
that the law deprives essential care for seniors and balloons the deficit.

“You may have heard once or twice this is a
job-crushing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity,” Obama said to
pro-reform advocates at the Families USA annual conference in Washington. “That
just doesn’t match up to the reality.”

{mosads}Obama’s fired-up rhetoric comes just days after the
president offered a more muted defense of the healthcare reform law in the
State of the Union address.

The president was firm Friday and used the home-field
advantage of a pro-healthcare reform crowd to bolster his defense of the law,
which House Republicans voted to repeal only a week ago.

Obama fought back against GOP claims that the bill won’t
reduce healthcare costs and would hurt the nation’s seniors while expanding the

With House Republicans using committee hearings this week
to pose the reform law as bad for business, Obama touched on a report from a
large business advocacy group that said the law would reduce premiums for

“That’s money that business can use to grow to invest or
hire. … That’s money workers won’t have to see vanish from paychecks or
bonuses. That’s good for all of us,” he said.

“And I can report that granny is safe,” he added, hitting
back at GOP claims that the administration wants to ration expensive care for
the elderly.

Obama also rebuked Republican claims that the nonpartisan
congressional scorekeeper used shaky math to determine that repealing the
reform law would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.

“They’re not just making this up,” he said about the
Congressional Budget Office.

The speech gave Obama the opportunity to defend the reform
law after barely touching on it during the State of the Union address earlier
this week. During the Tuesday speech, he posed the reform as the new baseline
for the nation’s healthcare policy and urged Republicans to focus on improving
the law instead of revoking it.

“If you have ideas about how to improve this law by
making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you,” Obama said
Tuesday night.

“What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when
insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing
condition,” he continued.

Obama touched on that theme Friday morning, again offering
up repeal of an IRS reporting requirement as an indication of his willingness
to improve the law. But he rejected the GOP’s efforts to “refight” the reform
battle of the past two years.

“Anything can be improved,” he said. “As we work to
implement it, there are going to be times when we say, ‘this needs a tweak’ and
‘this isn’t working exactly as we intended.’ ”

Over the past month, Democrats have been emphasizing the
law’s numerous consumer protections that have already gone into effect, such as
coverage for children regardless of pre-existing conditions and discounted drugs
for seniors in Medicare’s coverage gap. Touting those protections, Obama made
clear Friday morning that repeal was out of the question for him.

“I don’t want that for America, he said. “I don’t want that
for our families. That’s not who we are, that’s not what we stand for.”


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