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McKeon attacks health care agenda

Posted: September 9, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

While President Barack Obama called for action on health care reform in a Wednesday night speech to Congress, a local congressman criticized him for failing to truly seek a bipartisan solution.

"They (the Democrats) are not working with us on this," said Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

McKeon spoke to reporters on the phone hours before Obama's speech to discuss matters not so uplifting to the Republican Congressman.

"In tough economic times, why should we jump into a government health care plan?" McKeon asked.

He said the public option would inflate the deficit and was not the best choice for the nation.

Hours after McKeon lobbed critical comments at the president for pushing a partisan plan on health care reform, Obama delivered a speech to both houses of Congress.

"I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last," Obama said in his address. "Well, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action."

Obama put some meat on what his critics have called a bare-bones plan Wednesday night.

"As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most," he said.

Obama's plan would lift limits put on coverage and allow the uninsured to collectively purchase health care reform, which he added would attract private insurance companies into competing for the uninsured.

"Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers," Obama said. "As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage."

Obama also called for tort reform to reduce the number and cost of fraudulent medical malpractice lawsuits. McKeon had said such reforms must be part of any health care reform.

"If you're having a discussion and you're not talking about tort reform, you're whistling in the wind," McKeon said.

McKeon said he was upset Obama had rejected ideas he and his colleagues had offered.

"I had a personal lunch with the president along with five other Republican members of Congress," McKeon said. "We gave him five ideas and they were all unacceptable."

Obama didn't back away from the controversial public option during his speech Wednesday, calling the plan "a means to an end" for reform. McKeon, meanwhile, blasted the plan as an attack on our current health care system.

"We're talking about ripping out the roots of the best health care system in the world for something we are unsure of," McKeon said.


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