- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 23, 2009

Some of the statements about the pending health care reform are “phony claims meant to divide us,” President Obama said Saturday during his weekly radio address.

The president used his radio talk to directly address and shoot down rumors about his health care proposals that are spreading across the Internet. He said health care is important and he is not surprised that Americans are engaging in a debate.

“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,” the president said.

“Lets start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. Thats 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 rumors.

Mr. Obama said the legislation would not establish “death panels” and that nothing will alter the ban on using taxpayer money for abortions.

In the Republican response, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said, “As opposition to the Democrats’ government-run health plan is mounting, the president has said he’d like to stamp out some of the disinformation floating around out there.

“The problem is the president, himself, plays fast and loose with the facts.”

Mr. Price said the Democrats should scrap their plan and health care reform should make patients - not Washington or insurance providers - the top priority.

“We all know that when the government is setting the rules and is backed by tax dollars, it will destroy, not compete with, the private sector,” said Mr. Price, a physician who has taught orthopedic surgery.

“The reality is, whether or not you get to keep your plan or your doctor is very much in question under the president’s proposal.”

Mr. Obama told listeners that “it’s not true” that the plan would amount to government takeover of health care, and added that the source of that fear is confusion over a public insurance option that he wants the bill to include.

“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.”

Mr. Obama said the health care proposal would help families, that the final plan would make coverage more affordable and portable, and that insurers would no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

The plan would require insurers to cover routine checkups and preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies, he said.

“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 was spending Saturday at Camp David in Maryland before heading to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Sunday for a weeklong vacation with his family.

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