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"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election; the people who COUNT the votes do." -- Joseph Stalin

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Obama Takes the Gloves Off

President Obama mounted a frontal assault on the insurance industry on Saturday, accusing it of airing “deceptive and dishonest ads” to derail his health care legislation and threatening to strip the industry of its longstanding exemption from federal anti-trust laws.

In unusually harsh terms, Mr. Obama cast insurance companies as obstacles to change interested only in preserving their own “profits and bonuses” and willing to “bend the truth or break it” to stop his drive to remake the nation’s health care system. The president used his weekly radio and Internet address to push back against industry assertions that legislation will drive up premiums.

“It’s smoke and mirrors,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.’ Well, not this time.”

Rather than trying to curb costs and help patients, he said the industry is busy “figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exemption from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.”

Mr. Obama’s sharp attack comes as the health care debate moves out of congressional committees to the wider stage of floor debates in the Senate and House. While he has criticized insurers before, his bare-knuckled language on Saturday reflected a more open break with the industry and recognition that his efforts to bring it into some sort of consensus had failed.

FOR COMPLETE STORY:
NEW YORK TIMES


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