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Obama and Romney clash over health

The dispute over American health care has dominated the presidential race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney altering his stand on President Barack Obama's signature overhaul of the system, telling voters he would keep several important parts of the law that he has vowed to repeal.

Mr Obama focused his attention in the pivotal state of Florida on the Republican ticket's stand on Medicare, the popular government health insurance programme for the elderly and an issue that has been more favorable to Democrats.

Mr Romney also said in an interview that it was a "mistake" for congressional Republicans to go along with the White House on a budget deal that set up automatic spending cuts that include huge reductions in defence spending in the new year.

In his first appearance on NBC's Meet the Press programme in more than three years, Mr Romney said he wanted to replace the Obama health care plan with one of his own that included some of the most popular provisions of the incumbent's two-year-old law.

"I'm not getting rid of all of health care reform. Of course, there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," Mr Romney said.

He cited guaranteed coverage for people with preexisting medical conditions, coverage for young people up to age 26 on their parents' plans and new insurance marketplaces.

Mr Romney now insists, in line with the stance of his Republican party, that the so-called individual mandate must be repealed, but he offered no proposals on funding his health care plan.

The US Supreme Court has ruled, in suits brought by Republican opponents of the law, that the individual mandate - which establishes a tax penalty for people who don't purchase health insurance -is constitutional.

While the race remains tight, several daily tracking polls show Mr Obama picking up a lead of a few percentage points over Mr Romney in a contest that most voters say depends on which candidate they feel is best prepared to revive the struggling US economy.

Mr Obama appeared to have benefited from last week's Democratic National Convention and speeches by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, and former President Bill Clinton.


From Belfast Telegraph