- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 22, 2009

President Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to directly address and shoot down myths and distortions that are flying around the Internet about the pending health care proposal.

Mr. Obama said health care is important and that makes it no surprise there is an engaged debate going on in America over the plans.

But he added, “It should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions, spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are.”

“Let’s start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. That’s not true,” he said, a few days after his former campaign apparatus now run by the Democratic National Committee started a Web site to combat that and other rumors.

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Mr. Obama ticked off the other falsehoods such as that the bill would establish “death panels,” and said contrary to rumor nothing will alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions.

“These are phony claims meant to divide us,” he said.

The president said “it’s not true” that the plan would amount to government takeover of health care, adding the source of that fear is confusion over a public insurance option he wants included in the bill.

“This is one idea among many to provide more competition and choice, especially in the many places around the country where just one insurer thoroughly dominates the marketplace,” he said. “This alternative would have to operate as any other insurer, on the basis of the premiums it collects. … It would be just an option; those who prefer their private insurer would be under no obligation to shift to a public plan.”

He said the health care proposal would help families and said the final plan would make coverage more affordable and portable and that insurers would no longer be able to deny people due to preexisting conditions. The plan would require insurers to cover routine checkups and preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies, he said.

Mr. Obama also offered his refrain of late that the most important changes are tough to accomplish.

“It has never been easy, moving this nation forward,” he said in closing. “There are always those who oppose it, and those who use fear to block change. But what has always distinguished America is that when all the arguments have been heard, and all the concerns have been voiced, and the time comes to do what must be done, we rise above our differences, grasp each others’ hands, and march forward as one nation and one people, some of us Democrats, some of us Republicans, all of us Americans.”

The president spends Saturday at Camp David before heading to Martha’s Vineyard for a weeklong vacation with his family.

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