Obama: No “Straight Answer” from Health Insurance CEOs, Warns of More Premium Hikes to Come Without Up or Down Vote

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 6, 2010 6:01am

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Despite saying they are “very close” to reaching the goal of health care reform President Obama uses his meeting with insurance executives this week as an example, warning of what could happen if health care reform is not given an up or down vote. “The insurance companies aren’t starting over.  I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums – by as much as 60% in states like Illinois,” Obama says in his weekly address, ” If we do not act, they will continue to do this.  They will continue to drop people’s coverage when they need it.  They will continue to refuse coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  These practices will continue.” During a meeting at the White House on Thursday with these CEOs, President Obama read a letter from an Ohio resident who had written to the president describing her premiums skyrocketing up to 25% this year, and 40% in 2010 – even though she had been cancer-free for 11 years. The president told the executives of the nation’s top five insurance companies that this is “unacceptable and unsustainable.” In this weekly address the president again calls for Congress to act. The president again calls for Congress to act now. “The United States Congress owes the American people an up-or-down vote on health insurance reform,” he says. After a year of debate, and a seen hour summit, the President says that it’s time for a final vote – and lays out what change can happen immediately – this year — should this get done.” “Millions of lives will improve.  Some will be saved.  Many families and small business owners will have health insurance for the very first time in their lives.  Doctors and patients will have more control over their health care decisions, and insurance company bureaucrats will have less.  This future is within our grasp. ” The president said he knows it has been a “long and hard road” but added that he believes the process is “very close.” -Sunlen Miller UPDATE: "It's not too late: we can, and we must, stop this government takeover of health care," said Rep. Parker Griffith, (R- Ala.) said in the Republican response, “Make your voice heard now. America deserves better."

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