Health care speech resassures some

President Obama hoped to reshape the national health care debate and give his reform proposals a boost through his address to Congress. For Anne Fredrickson, his plan worked.

The Des Moines woman has struggled to stay insured since she lost her job in October, but said Obama's speech gave her hope.

"I feel a little better about something actually happening," Fredrickson said. "It was very reasonable."

But the speech didn't change the mind of John Aschenbrenner, president of insurance and financial services for the Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group.

Aschenbrenner praised Obama's passion for revising the health care system and said changing the system is "critical" to the country, but said the president's plan still doesn't seem like the right one.

"The president's continued support for the government-run plan is concerning because it will ultimately limit competition and choice," Aschenbrenner wrote in an e-mail after the speech. "An expansion of the underpayment of health care providers, which over time almost certainly would occur under a government plan, would undermine the viability of our health care system by hurting providers, consumers and marketplace competition."

In Detroit, a group of about 250 people watched the speech together during a health care forum at Wayne State University. The crowd reacted mostly positively to the president's address, cheering along during the president's applause lines and hissing when critics like House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared on screen.

But some were still left wondering.

Rita Black, a self-employed notary who pays for her own insurance, said she wants reform, but a system that doesn't include mandated fines for people who don't have insurance.

"I used to work for the state and saw those Medicaid claims that were denied," Black said. "The people who that is going to impact the most are the people who can't afford the fine or the insurance."

Black left the meeting worried that she had cause for concern.

Albert Jones, 78, of Detroit, said the spin doctors have been doing plenty to confuse the public about the health care proposals, especially potential changes to Medicare.

"I don't know how Obama has been able to stand up to all the confusion," he said. "But I hope we won't let this just be another speech. We have to look forward and that's going to take bold people willing to take a risk and get this thing passed."

Contributing: Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press; Tony Leys of TheDes Moines Register.

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