Obama Open to 'Fixing' Parts of Health Care Reform Bill
Obama is unwilling to repeal bill, but is willing to "fix what needs fixing."
Jan. 26, 2011— -- WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama told members of Congress and the nation that he is unwilling to repeal the health care reform bill but is willing to "fix what needs fixing," during his second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Obama's address was largely devoted to detailing how America can be the best in an array of areas, including technology, infrastructure, trade, and education. But he did touch on health care, and he acknowledged the partisan divide that has existed since the beginning of the health care reform debate.
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"Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law," he joked during his speech, which marked his fourth address to the entire Congress.
"So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved," he said. "If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses."
That line earned a huge eruption of applause from members of Congress. Obama was referring a bill that Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced earlier Tuesday that would repeal an unpopular provision in the healthcare reform law that requires employers to fill out a 1099 tax form every time they spend $600 on goods and services.
However, Obama said he's not willing to "go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition."
"As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage," he said. "So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward."
Obama also vowed to rein in spending, proposing a five-year freeze on all domestic spending as a way to start. He said he'd look for ways to reduce healthcare costs in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which he called the "single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit."