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Published: Thursday, 9/10/2009

Obama's speech stirs Congress' emotions

BLADE STAFF

President Obama's call for health-care reform last night sparked reaction from local members of Congress.

And the President singled out veteran Rep. John Dingell (D., Dearborn), whose district includes Monroe County, and his late father, John Dingell, Sr., as examples of the fight for comprehensive health-care reform.

Mr. Obama mentioned the Dingells in last night's address to Congress.

The President noted U.S. Rep. John Dingell, Sr., first introduced health-care reform legislation in 1943. Mr. Obama said, "65 years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session."

The Dearborn Democrat succeeded his late father in the House in 1955.

Mr. Dingell thanked Mr. Obama for the "kind remarks" about his father.

And he said the President has spelled out "responsible and practical solutions" to the health-care challenge.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) said, "I am concerned that the President is pushing for sweeping reform without closely studying all the consequences.

"To date, many of his ideas have lacked vital details and have left me with more questions than answers.

"... First, the President continues to promise that his reform plan will be budget neutral and bring skyrocketing health-care costs under control.

"He fails to acknowledge that many respected voices, like [Congressional Budget Office] Director Doug Elmendorf, have said his proposal and the bills currently being debated would 'significantly expand the federal responsibility for health-care costs,' putting the nation further into debt. We can no longer pass the buck to future generations. Let's do a better job with the money we're already spending."

Senator Voinovich added, "The President also consistently fails to mention the impact medical lawsuit abuse has on the increasing cost of health care.

"The cost of excessive tests and other procedures that physicians prescribe in order to avoid lawsuits adds $120 billion to the cost of health care annually - more than $1 trillion over 10 years."

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said, "The President's speech was solid, comprehensive, forward-looking. He reassured seniors about Medicare and those who have health-care insurance that they can keep their plans.

"I liked what he said about the status quo not being a solution and that we came to public life not to fear, but to shape the future," she said.

"Overall, I thought President Obama did a very good job and left the door open for additional ideas and additional proposals. We're at halftime. We've come a long way, the ball is moving up field, and this speech secured the edges of the debate."

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) said, "I attended numerous meetings across the Fifth District and met with hundreds of constituents who made it clear that they are unhappy with the way Congress is conducting the current health-care debate.

"Democrat congressional leadership continues to rush health-care legislation through both chambers, with no real explanation. ...

"No one will argue that our nation does not need health-care reform, but it is clear that Congress must start over with real bipartisan negotiations."

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said, "Tonight, the President made a strong case for health insurance reform that ensures all Americans have access to affordable, secure health-care coverage. He explained what health insurance reform will mean for Americans who have insurance, for those that struggle to afford or obtain coverage, and for businesses that want to cover their employees while staying competitive with foreign companies.

"For far too long, huge health insurance companies have been allowed to run roughshod over middle-class families in Ohio and across the country.

"It's one of the main reasons why Americans voted for change last November. And it's why I am committed to doing whatever I can to make sure Congress produces a strong health insurance reform bill - one that includes strict insurance regulation, tax credits for small businesses, and a robust public option - as soon as possible."

"I hope the President's strong leadership on this issue - even in the face of outrageous distortions from defenders of the status quo - inspires my colleagues in Congress to ignore the special-interest lobbyists and pass the reform that the American people have been waiting for."



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