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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

 9:20 PM 

Kind praises president's speech, Sensenbrenner questions its veracity

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind praised President Obama's speech on health care reform Wednesday night, seconding the president's insistence that an overhaul of the nation's system cannot add "a nickel to our national debt."

Kind, D-La Crosse, told reporters in a conference call after the speech that the country spends $680 billion on care and treatment that doesn't work, giving reformers one area to look for savings that could pack for the package.

"The problem we've had in the health care system, not just in Medicare but in private insurance, is the dollars flow to the volume of care given, regardless of whether it helps patients," Kind said.

Obama delivered his speech to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night in an effort to take back control of the health care debate that raged across the country during the August recess. He also sought to dispel several arguments raised by Republicans against the plan that he said were distortions.

But U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said in a statement after the speech that the president was guilty of misinformation himself during the speech.

The president said nothing in the plan would require someone's employer to change coverage, but Sensenbrenner insisted companies would switch to the public option to cover their employees because it would be more cost effective for them. He also said Dems have proposed cuts to Medicare despite the president's promises to protect the program and that it was disingenuous for him to say illegal immigrants would not be covered by the reforms since current law requires emergency rooms to treat all patients who walk through the door.

"It is therefore up to the President to fulfill his promise," Sensenbrenner said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl said in a statement after the speech that the president was correct in saying it is time to move forward with health care reform.

"As we do so, it is crucial that we begin to move toward universal coverage -- but it is also equally important that we address the out-of-control health care costs which affect every American family, every business, as well as our government," Kohl, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said in a statement that Americans don't need yet another speech from the president but "patient-centered, fiscally-responsible reform." He said Dems, Republicans and independents continue to offer alternatives to what's now before Congress that would provide universal health care without the federal government taking it over.

"If President Obama is sincere in asking for better ideas -- ideas that can garner bipartisan support -- he must be willing to consider them," Ryan said.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a statement the president's speech should reassure those unsure about reform or have doubts about the goals.

"I was heartened by the President's resolve to confront the lies being spread by those who oppose all efforts at reform. And I share his unequivocal commitment to finally ensure quality, affordable health care coverage for all Americans," Baldwin said. "In his words and his tone, President Obama reminded us why we elected him and what we can achieve when we work together toward a common goal."

UPDATE: More reaction to the speech from U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton and U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac.


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