Obama highlights benefits of health reform

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    US President Barack Obama highlighted the benefits of the newly-adopted health care reform on Saturday, saying it had already made insurance companies more accountable.

    “Aside from providing real, tangible benefits to the American people, the new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please,” he said, adding: “But those days are finally coming to an end.

    The health care legislation, passed by Congress and signed by the president into law in March, will extend medical coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans who currently lack it. It also bans insurance company abuses and stipulates that all US citizens have to buy insurance or face fines — a provision that has drawn lawsuits from several state attorney generals who claim it is unconstitutional.

    Among other key reforms, the legislation also bans insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, dropping clients who get sick or from setting lifetime caps. Republicans presented a united front in opposition to the bill, which also drew anti-reform protesters to Washington.

    Obama said his administration will be announcing a new rule on Monday that allows young adults without insurance to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26. “Even though insurance companies have until September to comply with this rule, we’ve asked them to do so immediately to avoid coverage gaps for new college graduates and other young adults,” the president said.

    Washington, May 8 (AFP)