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Obama hits back at healthcare reform critics

Published on 13/08/09 at 09:49am

President Obama has hit back at critics of his reform plans, saying their campaigns are using scare tactics to keep current unsustainable system in place.

At a meeting in New Hampshire he railed against accusations that he would cut government funded care for the elderly and disabled, saying these were myths and political slurs from those who profit from the unequal insurance-led set up in the US.

President Obama said: "Where we do disagree, lets do it over things that are real. Not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that has actually been proposed.

"History is clear. Every time we come close to passing health-insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got. They use their influence. They use their political allies to scare and mislead the American people. They start running ads. This is what they always do. We can't let them do it again. Not this time. Not now."

Currently around 50 million Americans do not have health insurance out of a population of 300 million, and the rising cost of healthcare are a major factor to the spiralling budget deficit in the US.

Obama has made healthcare reform top of his agenda, and hopes to push a raft of new laws through congress by the end of the year that will see all Americans given some form of insurance, be it private, subsidised or state-funded.

He said change was essential, as private insurance premiums have risen three times faster than wages in the US - a situation that is unsustainable. He also said the current funds for government-backed insurance for elderly and the disabled - Medicare and Medicaid - will be to stretched to breaking point in less than a decade unless change is brought about.

Positively, Obama said the plans have the support doctors and nurses in the US, and that the situation was closer to reform than ever before.

Slurs and the NHS

One major accusation laid at Obama's door came from the former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who said the president wanted to set up "death panels" within the government that would have the power to determine whether disabled or elderly Americans are "worthy of healthcare".

In other campaigns, the UK's National Health Service has unwittingly become the focus of political attacks on Obama, as Republicans and conservative campaigners rail against a tax-funded healthcare system.

The Guardian reports that top-ranking Republicans have joined bloggers and well-funded free market organisations in scorning the NHS for its waiting lists and for rationing the availability of expensive treatments.

These included untrue claims that in England, anyone over 59 years of age cannot receive heart repairs, stents or bypass because they too expensive and not worthwhile.

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