Obama hails plan for ‘uni­ver­sal health care’

Slams Repub­li­cans for Med­i­caid rules

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Pres­i­dent Obama used a cam­paign­style trip to Texas on Wed­nes­day to rally lib­er­als on his sput­ter­ing health care law, call­ing it a sys­tem of “uni­ver­sal health care” and call­ing out Texas Repub­li­cans for, he said, deny­ing health insurance to 1 mil­lion state res­i­dents.

For decades, lib­er­als have dreamed of a “uni­ver­sal health care” sys­tem in Amer­ica and Mr. Obama used that phrase, which he rarely does, in telling a group of vol­un­teers that, un­der his lead­er­ship, it has be­come a re­al­ity.

“We were able to get it done in part be­cause of grass-roots folks like you that fought so hard to make sure we were able to de­liver on uni­ver­sal health care,” the pres­i­dent told a group at Dal­las’ Tem­ple Emanu-El, where vol­un­teers are work­ing to ed­u­cate res­i­dents about the health care ex­change pro­grams es­tab­lished un­der Oba­macare.

“That’s what this is all about,” Mr. Obama said. “Ul­ti­mately, all the pol­i­tics, all the chat­ter, some­times leaves out the fact that the sys­tem we had, the sta­tus quo, just wasn’t work­ing.”

Mr. Obama later took di­rect aim at two of the state’s most no­table Repub­li­cans: Gov. Rick Perry and first-term Sen. Ted Cruz, ac­cus­ing them of be­ing blinded by “ide­ol­ogy.” At a $15,000-per-per­son Demo­cratic Party fundraiser Wed­nes­day evening, he blasted Mr. Cruz over the re­cent gov­ern­ment shut­down and took shots at Mr. Perry for re­fus­ing to ex­pand Med­i­caid, as Oba­macare al­lows.

The pres­i­dent said there are a “whole lot of good and de­cent Repub­li­cans,” but sug­gested Mr. Cruz is not among them.

“Right now, there’s a group that — and a few of them are from Texas — who just aren’t will­ing to do the hard work and com­pro­mise nec­es­sary to move the coun­try for­ward,” he said.

He never men­tioned Mr. Cruz by name, but at one point re­ferred to “one se­na­tor from Texas” when dis­cussing the shut­down and the de­bate over rais­ing the na­tional debt ceil­ing.

Mr. Obama then turned his at­ten­tion to Mr. Perry, say­ing the gov­er­nor’s stance is noth­ing more than “bull­head­ed­ness.”

“It’s a good deal for the state of Texas. … The only rea­son we’re not do­ing it is ide­ol­ogy,” Mr. Obama said. “If the gov­er­nor and the Leg­is­la­ture chose to do so, right now they could in­sure 1 mil­lion peo­ple right here in Texas.”

As a re­sult of last year’s Supreme Court de­ci­sion on Oba­macare, states can opt out of Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, a key part of the health care re­form law.

Al­though Mr. Obama’s health care law re­quires all Amer­i­cans to buy insurance or face fines, the sys­tem is built on pri­vate com­pa­nies of­fer­ing cov­er­age to in­di­vid­u­als or groups of con­sumers and thus is far from the kind of Cana­dian or Euro­pean sys­tem the phrase “uni­ver­sal health care” con­notes. Such sys­tems — also called “sin­gle payer” — usu­ally con­sist of one na­tional gov­ern­ment en­tity pay­ing for and pro­vid­ing care for all cit­i­zens.

Mr. Obama long has been a sup­porter of such a sys­tem, say­ing that, if he were start­ing from scratch, he would cre­ate a sin­gle-payer health care sys­tem for all Amer­i­cans.

That op­tion was never se­ri­ously con­sid­ered ei­ther while Mr. Obama was cam­paign­ing or since took of­fice, but some sus­pi­cious con­ser­va­tives have said the Af­ford­able Care Act was de­signed all along to be a step to­ward uni­ver­sal, sin­gle-payer health care.

In­deed, since the gl­itch-plagued Health­Care.gov went live Oct. 1, some lib­eral sup­port­ers of a sin­gle-payer sys­tem have claimed vin­di­ca­tion in hav­ing said that a half-mea­sure such as Oba­macare wouldn’t work and that the U.S. needs to ex­tend health care to all through ex­ist­ing pro­grams such as Medi­care.

“There’s a deep irony to this. Had Democrats stuck to the orig­i­nal Demo­cratic vi­sion and built com­pre­hen­sive health insurance on So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care, it would have been cheaper, sim­pler, and more widely ac­cepted by the pub­lic,” Robert Re­ich, sec­re­tary of la­bor un­der Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and now a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, wrote in a re­cent blog for The Huff­in­g­ton Post.


Pres­i­dent Obama gets a warm wel­come Wed­nes­day from Edna Pem­ber­ton, who in­tro­duced him to Health­Care.gov vol­un­teers at Tem­ple Emanu-El in Dal­las. Mr. Obama trav­eled to Texas to pitch his health care plan and raise money for the Demo­cratic Party.

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