During his Wednesday visit to Raleigh's Broughton High School, President Obama set out to rally the public for healthcare reform and refute "scare tactics" he said opponents are using to derail it.
"I have been as clear as I can be," he said. "Under the reform I have proposed, if you like your doctor, keep your doctor; if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. These folks need to stop scaring everybody."
His speech, before a receptive crowd, outlined key points of his healthcare agenda. He focused on cutting prescription drug costs, eliminating wasteful spending, and curtailing rising insurance premiums.
That came as good news to Raquel Kerr of Raleigh.
"I have very good insurance," she said. "But it's really squeezing everything out of the bank account. We work so that we can pay the premiums."
Rhonda Robinson of Durham got to speak with the President during his visit. She has epilepsy, but said she is forced to choose between paying rent and paying for hundreds of dollars a month in medications.
"I'm a single mother of two," she said. "We do need healthcare reform, especially for me with a pre-existing condition to be easier for me to get medical coverage."
Flanked on the stage by bleachers filled with business owners from Raleigh, President Obama assured the crowd that reform is affordable, saying two-thirds of the cost of reform could be covered by cutting wasteful spending on healthcare. The final third, he said, could be made up by reducing itemized deductions for people who make more than $250,000 a year.
"It's going to require everyone to give up something in order to make this work for everyone," said Bill Atkinson, CEO of WakeMed. "It's time to be an American and not what whatever group you're in might represent. Put that aside and represent this country."
The President also promised tax incentives for small business owners to provide coverage to their employees and access to a pool to leverage lower prices on insurance.
"Providing for my employees is a number one concern of mine," said small business owner Patty Briguglio of Raleigh. "Anything that the government does to increase taxes and prevent me from growing my business, I'm going to pay very close attention to."
President Obama told the crowd he does not want to delay reform and that he expects to see a bill from Congress by October.
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