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Will Obama Healthcare Summit Move Legislation to the Finish Line?

February 26, 2010

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Both parties sat down with President Obama Thursday and debated health care reform, and on the same day, a new report outlined how failure to pass reform would likely lead to nearly 14,000 premature deaths in New York. The new Families USA research focused on risks for those between the ages of 25 and 65, and found those on the younger end of the scale are in jeopardy because of a lack of quality health coverage.

Dr. Manel Silva, an adolescent medicine physician with the Children's Aid Society in Brooklyn, says the report reveals a troubling statistic.

"We typically don't think of young adults as having severe medical problems, but one-sixth of them have chronic conditions, and there can be life-threatening consequences that can happen from them."

Jeff Blum, co-chair of Health Care For America Now, says the president's health care plan is a fair compromise between proposed House and Senate versions.

"It will be a full health care system that will give people health security, that will begin to bring costs down, that will mean, ultimately, everybody has insurance. We've been fighting to get a national health care system for at least ninety-four years."

The nation has moved from a high number of unionized industry jobs with benefits, to a service sector-based economy that offers jobs without health care, says Blum. That means the government should step in to make sure everyone is covered, he adds.

"Everybody is scrabbling; the companies are scrabbling, the workers are scrabbling, the unemployed people are scrabbling. This bill creates exchanges where everybody is going to be able to have more affordable policies."

President Obama urged lawmakers to put aside their differences and focus on parts of the proposal where they generally agree. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander likened the health care proposal to a car that can't be recalled and fixed - and wants to "start over" on the process.

Critics of the plan to re-organize the nation's health care system have called it a big government take-over. Advocates argue reform would still depend on the same private health insurers that exist now, only regulating them more like utilities.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY