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Obama Open Changing Health Care Bill but Not Repeal

January 28, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Egypt at the White House in Washington, January … President Barack Obama stoutly defended his10-monthold health care law Friday, saying he's open to efforts to "tweak" it but he won't stand by while Republicans try to dismantle it.

Obama spoke Friday to the consumer advocacy group Families USA, which has strongly supported the new health law.

The House of Representatives, with Republicans newly in control, voted to repeal the health care law last week. Republicans have vowed to seek a similar vote in the Senate, where it faces a more difficult path because Democrats still control that chamber. The White House has dismissed the effort as an empty gesture.

Yet, the president is not ignoring the congressional challenge. He stood up for the bill in his State of the Union earlier this week and reiterated his support with a point-by-point rebuttal to the GOP on Friday.

"You may have heard once or twice that this is a job-crushing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity," he said. "That just doesn't match up to the reality."

He argued that since he signed the bill 10 months ago, the economy had grown and small businesses are offering health care to employees, many for the first time. He said the elderly are benefiting from a stronger Medicare and those who fell in a gap in Medicare's prescription drug program are receiving relief.

"I can report that Granny is safe," he said.

Obama said he was open to ideas that would improve the legislation. He said he supports efforts to remove reporting burdens on small businesses. And he said he also would consider ideas dealing with patient safety innovations and medical malpractice.

"I believe that anything can be improved," he said.

But, he added: "I'm not open to efforts to take this law apart without considering the lives and livelihoods that hang in the balance."

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