In Washington, US President Barack Obama has been giving his plans for healthcare reform the hard sell.
Obama described the issue as “central” to his country’s economic recovery, and promised reform legislation would be passed by the end of the year. He also warned that this is no time for political point scoring on Capitol Hill. He said: “This is not about me. I have great health insurance and so does every member of Congress. This is about every family, every business and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades. “This debate is not a game for these Americans and they can’t afford to wait any longer for reform. They are counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership and we can’t let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice and provides coverage that every American can count on and we will do it this year.” Some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance, and the cost of providing it for them will top an estimated one trillion dollars over the next ten years. This is a “signature” issue for Obama, who is personally popular but his policies less so. Less than half of US citizens approve of the way he has handled the healthcare issue. Experts say that as well as rallying his own party over the cost, he must persuade his opponents and also ordinary Americans of the value of his proposals.