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    Experts React to the President's Speech on Health Reform

    Obama's Health Plan: The Debate Goes On

    The Public Option continued...

    Greg D'Angelo of the Heritage Foundation, which opposes a government-run public option, says if Obama had scrapped it, "people on the left would have revolted.''

    The speech basically ''repackaged'' what Obama has already said on reform, D'Angelo says.

    Still, the president reached out at times to Republicans, citing Sen. John McCain's idea to provide immediate insurance reform for helping people with pre-existing conditions.

    He also said he would back changes of the medical malpractice insurance market, a topic that drove many Republicans to their feet in applause. Obama said he would pursue pilot projects on malpractice reform proposed by the Bush administration.

    But D'Angelo says if the president truly wanted to be bipartisan, he would start over on a new health reform bill. "He didn't find the middle ground.''

    Obama was perhaps at his most forceful when he singled out rumors that health reform would lead to government encouraging euthanasia -- "that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.''

    That rebuke was ''probably something he needed to say,'' Hobson says.

    Obama also denied that reform would give insurance to illegal immigrants -- a statement that was greeted by a shout of ''you lie'' from Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.

    The president later said he would continue to seek common ground. "If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.''

    But not to people who misrepresent his plan, he added.

    It's encouraging that Obama is open to any ideas, D'Angelo says, but he notes that Republicans already had introduced alternative bills. "I don't think he made any progress. I don't think he'll get bipartisan support.''

    Though reform will achieve savings in Medicare, Obama also said he would protect the program for people 65 and older and the disabled. The aim was to shore up support from a wavering audience, seniors, who have shown increasing worry over health reform. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found seniors are more likely to see Medicare as worse off than better off under health care reform (37% to 20%).

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