Obama’s new health-care argument: A primer

President Obama promised Wednesday to do everything in his power to persuade the country in the next few weeks that the Congress should pass a health-care bill, even if Democrats use reconciliation to get it done.

In his speech, the president previewed the case he’ll be making as he goes to Philadelphia on Monday and to St. Louis on Wednesday. Here are four of the core points to Obama’s argument about his health-care proposal:

1. It’s not a government takeover of health care
Obama said “government-run health care” would be “neither practical nor realistic.” Democrats argue that with a “public option” off the table, there is no argument to be made that their plan increases government control of the health-care sector, and Obama said his plan would “give the American people more control over their own health insurance.”

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, used the phrase “government takeover” at least five times in a TV interview immediately after the president’s speech. Obama’s proposal would require all Americans to have health insurance and would give the federal government regulatory powers to determine what constitutes a qualified plan. The government would also have the power to set prices for insurers. Republicans also point to what they say are 159 government “boards, commissions and programs” that would be created by the Senate bill.

2. Republicans are ideologically committed to protecting health insurance companies, but he wants to protect Americans from the industry
Obama has been making this point since hosting last week’s health-care summit. It’s a stretch to say Republicans are ideologically committed to the insurance industry, since most Republicans are ideologically committed to limiting the power of government – the application of that ideology does mean that many Republicans oppose regulation they consider burdensome. But it’s a rhetorical shortcut that gives the president an effective point of attack.

“Republicans in Congress … believe the answer is to loosen regulations on the insurance industry,” he said.” I’m concerned that this would only give the insurance industry even freer rein to raise premiums and deny care.”

He argued that he will give more control of health care companies to Americans “by holding insurance companies more accountable.”

Republicans say they have their own ideas on how to protect consumers from health care insurance abuse.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, said their plan “establishes universal access programs to guarantee access to affordable health care for those with pre-existing conditions.”

“Our plan also prohibits an insurer from canceling a policy unless a person commits fraud or conceals material facts about a health condition,” Smith said.