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President Obama Speaks in Maine 

President Obama was in Maine Thursday afternoon, delivering a highly spirited speech defending the health care reform bill he recently signed into law.Maine is the second stop on his road trip as he talks to people about insurance reforms in the new health care bill. He spoke in front of a packed house at the Portland Expo, where the applause was huge. People waited hours in line for tickets to hear what he had to say.”Mainers, last week, after a year of debate and a century of trying, health care reform became the law of the land.”The President started his remarks by saying it won’t solve every problem or bring health care costs down overnight. But he says this reform does represent enormous progress.He talked about the elements of the plan that start this year. First, how small business owners can apply for tax credits to cover up to 35-percent of what they pay for their employees’ health insurance. He says they’ll release details on how to apply for the credit this month. The President says many of Maine’s 35-thousand small businesses will benefit from the credit.”Starting now, small business owners that provide health care to their workers can sit down at the end of the week, look at their expenses and begin calculating how much they’re going to save. For small business owners who don’t currently provide health insurance, they’ll be able to factor in this new benefit in deciding whether to do so,” he says.He also mentioned other elements of the plan that start this year, including how uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions will be able to buy coverage, and that insurance companies can no longer drop people’s coverage when they’re sick. “This reform incorporates ideas from Democrats and Republicans, by the way, a number of ideas from your senator, and somebody I consider a friend, Olympia Snowe, who spent many hours meeting with me on this bill.”Also in the plan for this year, young people without insurance can stay on their parents’ plans until the age of twenty-six.”And I want seniors to know despite what some people have said, these reforms will not cut your guaranteed benefits. What they will do is eliminate co-payments and deductibles for things like checkups and mammograms. You will be getting those for free. This is why AARP supported this bill because it’s good for seniors, it’s the right thing to do. It’s good for young people, it’s the right thing to do.”Other reforms will go into effect four years from now.Outside the building, demonstrators protested the reform. They say it will hurt jobs and the economy, and that the Obama administration is taking away individual liberties while driving up the government’s deficit.After his appearance in Maine, the President was headed to Massachusetts, where he met with officials to discuss recent flooding. Thursday night, he was scheduled to attend a pair of democratic fundraisers in Boston.