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TODAY SPECIAL
 
Obama says to

U.S. President Barack Obama traveled to Portland, Maine Thursday to sell the health insurance reform, touting its benefits to small business and asking the public to be patient about the reform.

Making fun of what happened before and after the reform became law last week, Obama said after he signed the bill, he "looked up to see if there were any asteroids headed our way," and "checked to see if any cracks had opened up in the ground."

"But you know what? It turned out to be a pretty nice day."

Obama said every day he saw "another poll or headline that says nation still divided on health reform, no great surge in public support."

"It's only been a week, before we find out if people like health care reform, maybe we should wait until it actually happens, " he advised, to an applauding audience of about 2,500 at Portland Expo Center.

The president went on to explain the benefits the reform would bring to small business. "Starting this year, millions of small business owners will be eligible for tax credits that will help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees."

According to the White House, the reform's tax credit to small business, which is effective immediately, can cover up to 35 percent of the premiums a small business pays to cover its workers. In 2014, the rate will increase to 50 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the tax credit will save small businesses 40 billion U.S. dollars by 2019.

"Millions of people will get tax breaks to help them afford coverage - credits that add up to the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history," Obama told the crowd.

However, he urged people to be patient. He said the reform will not solve every problem with health care system, and it will not bring down the cost of health care overnight, and adjustments will have to be made along the way.

The health care reform, a central piece of Obama's domestic agenda, has divided Washington as well as the public. Opponents are challenging it in court, saying the government cannot force people to have health insurance.

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said Obama continued to talk about health care because "the president thinks it's important that we continue to make sure that the American people know exactly what they're getting out of this bill in the short term, what it's going to mean for their families, for businesses and for the economy in the long-term."

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