The biggest applause that President Barack Obama received on Thursday, while speaking about health care reform at Southwest High School in Green Bay, came when he said that health care coverage should not be denied due to pre-existing conditions, that there ought to be a public health insurance option for all, and that taxes should be raised on the well-to-do to finance changes in the health care system. In other words, some of the most progressive elements of his speech drew the most enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Here are those excerpts:
* So what we’re working on is the creation of something called a Health Insurance Exchange – which would allow you to one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that’s best for you. None of these plans would be able to deny coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, and all should include an affordable, basic benefit package.
* I also strongly believe that one of the options in the Exchange should be a public insurance option – because if the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and help keep prices down.
* And I’ll be honest – even with these savings, reform will require additional sources of revenue. That’s why I’ve proposed that we scale back how much the highest-income Americans can deduct on their taxes back to the rate from the Reagan years – and use that money to help finance health care.
One question, though, is how hard Obama will press Congress to produce a bill to his liking. His speech today was an indicator that he may well be able to rally public support outside the Beltway for a strong package. How far will he go inside Washington?