Obama decries healthcare 'myths' as Republicans push back

In his radio address, he takes on “death panels” and other “outrageous” charges. In rebuttal, Rep. Tom Price slams “Democrats’ government-run health plan."

By , Staff writer

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    President Barack Obama speaks during a health care forum, Thursday.
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The Obamas have left Washington for some R&R, but the battle over health reform rages on.

In his weekly radio/video address, recorded before leaving town, President Obama slammed his opponents Saturday for spreading what he called “willful misrepresentations and outright distortions” over his plans for comprehensive reform of the healthcare system.

Rep. Tom Price (R) of Georgia, in the GOP reply, slammed what he called “the Democrats’ government-run health plan.” His line of argument was buttressed on the ground around the country on Saturday, as the antitax “tea party” movement held anti-“Obamacare” rallies.

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Obama devoted his radio remarks to “debunking some of the most outrageous myths” circulating about what the Democratic reforms would do:

• That illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. “That idea has never even been on the table,” Obama said.

• That reform will produce a government takeover of healthcare. He attributed this accusation to confusion over the so-called “public option,” a proposal for a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private plans. “It would just be an option; those who prefer their private insurer would be under no obligation to shift to a public plan,” Obama said.

• That coverage for abortion would be mandated under reform. That is false, although Obama did not venture into the territory of whether women receive federally subsidized insurance could sign onto a health plan that covers abortion.

• That “death panels” will be formed to decide who receives treatment. Obama called this “an offensive notion to me and the American people.”

Obama also talked about what reform would do, such as provide affordable insurance to those who don’t have it, ban “unfair practices” by insurers, such as denying coverage for preexisting conditions, and place more emphasis on routine and preventive care.

Representative Price, who was a practicing physician before entering Congress, disputed the notion that Republicans are fighting to preserve the status quo.

He called the nation’s current healthcare system “clearly unacceptable.” The challenge, he said, “is providing Americans more accessible and affordable care without impairing the quality, innovation, and choices that define American medicine.”

“And this is simply impossible with the one-size-fits-all approach taken by the president and Democrats in charge of Congress,” he said.

Price added that Republicans “have plans to increase coverage and lower costs without putting a bureaucrat between you and your doctor,” but he did not provide details. Instead, he focused on aspects of Obama’s message on health reform that he says aren’t true.

“On the stump, the President regularly tells Americans that ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ But if you read the bill, that just isn’t so,” Price said. “For starters, within five years, every healthcare plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage -- one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it."

Price continued: “What’s more, experts agree that under the House bill, millions of Americans will be forced off their personal, private coverage and shuffled onto the government plan.”

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