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Obama quells reform concerns

US president reassures the American people that his radical healthcare reforms would benefit all

US president reassures the American people that his radical healthcare reforms would benefit all.

In his most comprehensive speech yet on healthcare reform, President Barak Obama addressed concerns about the impact on middle class taxpayers of his planned widespread changes to the US healthcare system.

In a prime-time televised conference, Obama promised that his landmark legislation would improve the quality of life of millions of middle class Americans and insisted that it was crucial to the future economic health of the country.

"This is not just about 47 million Americans who have no health insurance," he said. "Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage."

The president's most pressing domestic issue has stalled on Capitol Hill and faces what even Obama himself admits is 'entirely legitimate' scepticism. However, he has vowed that his healthcare reform agenda would drive down costs, in some cases saving individual families thousands of dollars.

Under pressure to detail how the far-reaching proposed legislation would result in significant savings for families, business and the government, Obama said his plans focus on reducing waste in the current system, which is dominated by large insurance firms making huge profits.

In the long term, Obama said he plans to slow the rate of healthcare spending by digitising medical records, eliminating waste and duplication, and revolutionising the way doctors are paid.

He roundly refuted suggestions that the reforms would mean sacrifice for many and that Medicare spending would fall putting added economic pressure on the elderly. "It's not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it's going to do is to change how those benefits are delivered so that they're more efficient," he said. He added that healthcare providers would look to less costly treatments, although he did not detail how this would be enforced or encouraged.

US polls have revealed that while many citizens are keen to see changes made to their healthcare system, which is among one of the most expensive, yet inefficient in the world, they are uneasy about Obama's reform plan.

23rd July 2009

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