KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Dares Republicans To Attempt Health Bill Repeal

President Barack Obama went to Iowa City, where he first outlined his plans for health care reform as a candidate, to campaign for public support for the new health overhaul law, USA Today reports.  "Obama dared congressional Republicans today to campaign for repeal of the new health care law. 'My attitude is, go for it!,' Obama told a cheering crowd. ... 'If they want to have that fight, we can have it!' The president also said he doesn't believe voters 'are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've already been there -- we're not going back!' ... House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a column written for Iowa's largest newspaper, wrote that the new law should be repealed and replaced because it gives government too much control over health care.' ... Obama was also greeted by an announcement from Iowa's largest manufacturer, Deere & Company, saying the new health care law will cost it $150 million this year. Deere spokesman Ken Golden called it a one-time cost to cover a new tax on subsidies paid to corporations for retiree prescription drug costs. At one point during Obama's speech, a heckler protested the fact that the plan does not guarantee universal health coverage. Obama said that couldn't get through Congress, but does cover an additional 32 million people" (Jackson, 3/25).

The Hill: "Obama's speech highlights growing confidence in the White House and the Democratic party that they have seized political momentum with the healthcare vote.  While dozens of Democrats face possible defeat in November's elections, the party believes it has seen the worst of the political cycle. Republicans who described the healthcare reform as a disaster for the country are now blasting the delays in reform that come as part of the legislation. Obama warned that it 'will take about four years to implement this entire plan – because we need to do it responsibly and we need to get it right'" (Youngman, 3/25).

Politico live-blogged the speech: He gets loud cheers when touting a new rule that allows young people to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they're 26. "Because as you start your lives and your careers, the last thing you should worry about is whether you'll go broke just because you get sick," he says. (2:28 p.m.)" (3/25).

Kaiser Health News has a transcript of Obama's speech.

In a separate story, USA Today reports: "Protesters were lining the street as President Obama's motorcade arrived this afternoon. ...
The White House pool report, compiled by Carol Lee of Politico, noted signs saying 'Health care kills babies,' 'We will not forget,' and 'Repeal.' One woman held up a sign with the opposite view: 'Iowa Small Business thank you'" (Camia, 3/25).

The Washington Post: "His speech in Iowa City marks the start of the White House's efforts to frame the health-care law in a manner that might sway a public skeptical thus far of the measure's benefits. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the administration's lawyers are preparing for what could be a fierce legal fight over the new law." White House officials say a clause in the Constitution gives the federal government right to regulate interstate commerce by imposing a mandate on residents to carry insurance, though opponents say the health reform law violates that part of the Constitution. "Obama's visit to Iowa City on Thursday is meant to recall the address he gave there as a presidential hopeful in May 2007 … White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that the president 'believes it is important to continue to talk about the many aspects of the law that will do precisely what he said they're intended to do: Help small businesses that provide health coverage for their employees,' Gibbs said" (Shear, 3/25).

CNN: "Obama is expected to make many such trips in the weeks ahead, following up on promises to push back on Republican attacks in the months leading up to the November mid-term elections, the officials said" (3/25).

The Associated Press notes that the president is at the University of Iowa, "which is in Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack's district. Loebsack voted for the health care bill. Before the vote, Obama promised wavering Democrats, who primarily were moderates in conservative-leaning districts and states, that they wouldn't be left standing alone if they cast the tough 'yes' votes on the bill" (3/25).


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