US President Barack Obama has delivered his high stakes speech on healthcare reform to a divided Congress.
In a rare address to both houses, Obama spelled out his plan for universal coverage to much Democrat applause, but implied he was prepared to push ahead without Republicans on board. Healthcare reform is Obama’s key domestic policy initiative and many analysts believe it will shape his presidency. “The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals: it will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance, it will provide insurance who those who don’t and it will slow the growth of heath care cost for families, our businesses and our government,” he explained. In an earlier speech Obama had recognised that a lack of detail regarding his plans had produced a summer of heated argument, much of it based on misinformation. The president was keen to set out his stall to Congress, saying: “The time for bickering is over, the time for games has passed, now it’s the season for action, now it’s when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do, now it’s the time to deliver on health care”. A massive TV audience was expected for the speech and reaction will come as the details are scrutinised. One Obama supporter said at least the president has lifted the aura of failure over this controversial reform.