Obama: Greedy Health Insurers Show Need For Reform

Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
March 8, 2010

President Obama today will rail against the greed of health insurance companies in urging passage of his overhaul of the health-care system in remarks prepared for delivery this morning at Arcadia University in Glenside.

Obama citied recent massive rate hikes by major insurers, and the advice of investment consultants at Goldman Sachs that customers should buy stock in health insurers because it's easy money -- no competition and no price restraints.

"You see, these insurance companies have made a calculation," Obama said in prepared remarks released by the White House. "They're OK with people being priced out of health insurance because they'll still make more by raising premiums on the customers they have. And they will keep doing this for as long as they can get away with it."

The president arrived about 10:45 a.m. at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, where he was greeted by Gov. Rendell and Mayor Nutter,

About 200 Tea Party protesters were waiting for him outside the university's main gate.

In his prepared remarks, the president said the time to overhaul health care is now.

"So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it?" Obama's prepared remarks said. "How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? How many more businesses have to drop coverage? How many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid? When is the right time for health insurance reform?"

The trip to Arcadia University is part of a last-ditch effort by the president to press Congress to adopt legislation overhauling the nation's health care system.

Students with tickets to see the president began lining up outside the school's Kuch Athletic and Recreation Center hours before the doors opened at 8:30 a.m.

"A lot of my family cannot afford health care," said psychology major Rebekah Woolf, who said she camped out Friday night for chance to get a ticket when they were handed out Saturday. "I want to see how Obama stands for or it."

Her friend, Kate Timpspon, 20, a psychobiology major, said she came because "It's a part of history, a once in a lifetime event to see a president and see him talk about health care reform."

Before the president arrived, about 200 Tea Party opponents of the president held a rally outside the university gates.

Police tried to move the group, citing safety concerns, but relented after they were shouted down.

The Tea Partiers held signs saying, "Obamacare Sick Joke," "Hands Off My Health Care," and "No Socialized Medicine."

"We are very concerned that the federal government is poised to take over the health care industry," said Don Adams, treasurer of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association. "America is a free enterprise nation and we have always conducted out medical affairs privately."

A smaller group turned out to support the president, holding signs saying, "Yes, Yes to Health Care," and "Health Care Reform, Yes We Can."

"People are angry for different reasons," Kathy DiPangrazio of Montgomery Township said of the president's opponents.

She said she and three friends who accompanied her from Lansdale want to show there is support for Obama and health care reform.

"Right now the opposition's voice is a little louder than oursm and we need to speak up," said DiPangrazio, who worked for Obama's campaign and was holding a Obama-Biden sign.

Obama will make a trip to St. Louis tomorrow on a similar mission.

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