KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Fresh From G-20, Obama Renews Health Care Push

News outlets reported on President Obama and members of his administration looking to lock in votes for health reform.

The Associated Press: President Barack Obama on Saturday resumed his push to overhaul the health care system, telling a Congressional Black Caucus conference that there comes a time when 'the cup of endurance runs over.'"

"'We have been waiting for health reform since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. We've been waiting since the days of Harry Truman,' he said in remarks at the caucus foundation's annual dinner. 'We've been waiting since Johnson and Nixon and Clinton. We cannot wait any longer,' Obama said. ... In the speech, Obama described his plan as one that would not require people with coverage to change anything but would make health insurance affordable for the millions of people who don't have any. Republicans dispute those claims" (Superville, 9/26). 

Politico: But while the House members in attendance are mostly supporters of one, Obama made no mention of a public option. ... Obama segued from civil rights into health care, ticking off what his plan calls for and borrowing a line from Martin Luther King, saying that the push called for the fierce urgency of now'" (Henderson, 9/26).

CNN: Taking on the voices that say the administration is moving too fast on health care and needs to slow down, he cited examples of people who need urgent health care, and said such people can't be asked to wait. ... health care came up there at the G-20, too, Obama recounted Saturday night. He mentioned a conversation with an unnamed foreign leader at the summit about the furious health care debate. 'He says, 'Barack, explain to me this health care debate. We don't understand it. You're trying to make sure everybody has health care and they're putting a Hitler mustache on you. That doesn't make sense to me, explain that to me,'' Obama said, referring to the antagonistic rhetoric and imagery disseminated about the president by opponents of health care reform" (9/27).

The New York Times begins a story today with an anecdote about White House budget director Peter Orszag dining with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to look for her support on a health care overhaul: "The courtship of Ms. Collins offers a glimpse into what White House officials say is an increasingly aggressive campaign to line up votes for a health care bill, which faces a crucial vote in the Senate Finance Committee this week. After months of cutting deals and stroking drug makers, hospitals and doctors, the president's aides are laying the groundwork for a final round of Congressional arm-twisting, with Mr. Obama increasingly in a hands-on role."

As the Finance Committee wrestles with the bill, which could form the backbone of an eventual Obama plan, the lobbying effort is already bearing fruit. One Democrat who consults frequently with the White House said that a main goal of the administration has been to prevent any Democrat from publicly declaring opposition to the measure. So far, the only one who has, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, has scaled back his criticism after a private Oval Office session with the president" (Stolberg, 9/26).

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