In Raleigh visit, Obama criticizes insurers

RALEIGH — With his health-care proposal hitting turbulence, President Barack Obama sharpened his response to critics during a North Carolina visit Wednesday, singling out the insurance industry.

Obama said at Raleigh's Broughton High School that his plan would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or doubling people's premiums over the next decade.

"The truth is, we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry," Obama said, "but it doesn't always work well for you. So what we need, and what we will have when we pass these reforms, are health-insurance consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and insurance companies are held accountable."

That drew a quick reaction from Bob Greczyn, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer.

"It was disappointing that President Obama used so much of his time in North Carolina bashing insurance companies," Greczyn said in a statement. "We don't believe a government-run plan is necessary to achieve the reform Americans need."

Greczyn said the president was wrong to say that insurance companies don't cover routine care such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

Others cheered Obama's frank talk.

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