President Obama Talks Health Care in Appalachia After Free Health Clinic

By: John Rodgers Email
By: John Rodgers Email

July 29, 2009

President Barack Obama took his health care push to the Commonwealth. He held a town hall in Bristol at a Kroger store. Obama's health care plan is gaining momentum in Congress.

The presidential visit to the aisles of a Kroger in Bristol focused on two major issues: health care and the economy. Obama told the crowd he sees signs of the recession ending. On health care, he addressed critics of his reform proposal. He said it's not a government takeover of health care, and if you like your doctor or insurance plan now you can keep them.

"What a lot of the chatter out there hasn't focused on is the fact that for people who have health insurance, often times are still not getting a good deal. The reforms we're proposing would make dealing with insurance companies a little easier for the American people," said President Obama.

Obama's audience Wednesday in Bristol included about 100
union-represented and insured cashiers, baggers, managers and
clerks at a Kroger grocery store. Cincinnati-based Kroger, the
nation's largest traditional grocery chain, operates in 31 states
and spends more than $1 billion a year on health care and related

"We agree reform is needed," Kroger spokeswoman Meghan Glynn
said. "It is a complex issue that must balance the needs of
citizens, the costs to individuals and businesses, and issues of
access and quality of care."

Bristol is a city uniquely divided with the Tennessee-Virginia
state line running through the center of this combined community of
about 41,000.

Some of the plan specifics include a cap for insurance companies on out of pocket expenses and mandatory coverage for preventative care.

It would also prevent companies from dropping coverage when you get seriously sick. Several protesters gathered outside the Kroger store. Some of their signs had slogans such as "Obama Care is Political Malpractice" and "Keep Your Hands Off My Health Care."

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