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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Public Health -

Obama signs final healthcare changes, defends law

Public HealthMar 31, 10

President Barack Obama made another push to sell his healthcare overhaul to a skeptical public on Tuesday, calling it a victory over special interests that will improve the lives of middle-class Americans and defending the “courage” of legislators who backed it.

“This day affirms our ability to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time,” Obama told a college audience outside Washington, as he signed into law final changes to the sweeping plan approved by lawmakers last week, along with reforms in college student loan programs.

The signing capped a year-long struggle between Democrats and Republicans that has set the stage for a bitter campaign for control of Congress in November. Republicans have vowed to make the healthcare bill the centerpiece of the election fight as they seek to repeal it.

Obama defended legislators who voted for the bill, the most sweeping shift in U.S. social policy in decades, and took aim at what he said were misleading attacks.

“Courage is an essential ingredient in any landmark legislation, particularly when the attacks are as fierce and unrelenting and inaccurate as they have been over the past year. I just want to commend members of Congress who had the courage to do what’s right,” he said.

But opinion polls show Obama and his Democrats will have to work hard to promote the 10-year, $940 billion overhaul.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the healthcare overhaul costs too much and expands the government’s role too far, according to a USA Today/Gallup survey published on Tuesday.

Sixty-five percent of Americans believe the reforms cost too much, and 64 percent say they bring too much government involvement into a private industry, the poll said.

In an interview that aired on Tuesday, Obama acknowledged that adjustments will be needed in the law to reduce costs.

“I think it is a critical first step in making a healthcare system that works for all Americans,” Obama said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “It is not going to be the only thing. We are still going to have adjustments that have to be made to further reduce costs.”

U.S. companies have started to tally up the financial hit they say they will take because of the law.

The government still pays subsidies to large companies to help pay for prescription drug benefits for their large ranks of retirees, but the new law does not allow the corporations to also deduct the amount of the subsidies from their taxable income.

Corporate America calls the change a tax increase, but the White House says it merely closes a tax loophole.

By Alister Bull

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters)

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