President Obama returned to the topic of health care reform in his weekly Saturday radio and internet address, calling it "a critical step in rebuilding our economy."
The Wall Street Journal: "Changes being proposed would be especially helpful for small businesses that account for about half the nation's job growth and are struggling with rising employee health-care costs, Mr. Obama said. Such firms now pay 18% more for the same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have less bargaining power and higher administrative costs, which Mr. Obama said has led many to cut employee health benefits or drop coverage altogether."
"Congress isn't planning to require small firms to offer health insurance to employees, but many that do would receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. At firms that don't provide coverage, employees would receive tax credits to help them buy insurance on their own. Lawmakers also aim to create insurance exchanges offering a variety of plans for individuals and companies" (Burns, 10/3).
Washington Post: "He said the proposed insurance exchanges would provide small businesses with 'a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now. ... Rising health-care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month,' he said."
"Obama noted that the Senate Finance Committee this week finished its work on health-care legislation, and he predicted that 'a vigorous debate' will unfold as the Senate and House prepare for floor votes" (Wilson, 10/3).
Reuters: "With Democrats divided and Republicans battling what they consider a government-takeover of healthcare, Obama tried to lay down some markers for the coming debate as he seeks to gain passage of a plan this year. 'I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost," he said" (Holland, 10/3).
The Associated Press: President Barack Obama said Saturday he is exploring "'additional options to promote job creation.' Administration aides said possibilities include:
-extending enhanced unemployment-insurance benefits beyond Dec. 31, when they are set to expire.
-extending a tax credit for laid-off workers who buy health insurance through the COBRA program. That program allows workers to keep their company's health insurance plan for 18 months after they leave their job, if they pay the premiums" (Babington, 10/3).
Bloomberg: "In the Republican address, Representative Candice Miller of Michigan said the jobs report proves that the Democrat-backed stimulus legislation didn’t help the economy, and that a Republican-backed proposal to use tax relief would have created more jobs. ... Miller also warned of the economic consequences of other Democratic legislative priorities such as the health-care overhaul and proposals to limit the emission of greenhouse gases. ... 'There could not be a worse time to heap additional pain on families struggling to make ends meet,' she said. 'This isn’t the change the American people were promised'" (Johnston, 10/3).