Obama Health Reform Speech Rallies Pa. Audience, Challenges Insurers
"Trying to rally the public and put more pressure on Congress to act quickly, President Obama on Monday took to the road to castigate insurance companies and urged voters to lobby for passage of the healthcare overhaul," the Los Angeles Times reports. The Times notes that Obama's approach during the speech was "reminiscent of his campaign mode ... rather than the cool, contemplative president."
"'How much higher do premiums have to rise before we do something about it?' Obama asked an enthusiastic, mostly young audience at Arcadia University in Glenside, Penn. Obama argued that his healthcare proposal trumped politics. 'I don't know how passing healthcare will play politically, but I do know that it's the right thing to do,' he said." He also urged those who share this view to back him up. "'And I ask you to help us get us over the finish line these next few weeks'" (Nicholas and Muskal, 3/9).
Business Week/Bloomberg: "Insurance companies have made a calculation that higher premiums can more than make up for the loss of customers who can't afford coverage, Obama said. ... 'We can't have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the American people,' Obama said. He cited rising premiums including a proposal by WellPoint Inc., the largest provider by membership, for a 39 percent rate increase for some policyholders in California" (Brower and Jensen, 3/8).
The "35-minute speech was aimed squarely at Congress," according to Politico. Obama "appealed to Democrats who are undecided by shaming the politics at play, even making a rare reference to President Bill Clinton's failure to get health care reform. He acknowledged the health care vote is 'hard' for members of Congress and that the echo chamber in Washington 'is as deafening as it's ever been' in this final stretch."
"Obama got in a few digs at his new hometown. The people of Washington are 'wonderful,' he said, 'love the monuments and everything.' But in Washington, he added, people respond to every debate with the same question: What does this mean for the next election?" (Lee, 3/8).
The Hill's Blog Briefing Room: During the speech, "Obama directly sought to address GOP criticisms that his health plan doesn't do enough to contain rising health costs, with the president arguing that he's incorporated serious Republican proposals to do just that into his plan."
Obama said, "You keep on hearing from critics and some of the Republicans on these Sunday shows say, well, we want to do more about costs." He continued, "We have now incorporated almost every single serious idea from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising costs of health care, ideas that go after waste and abuse in our system, including in programs like Medicare" (O'Brien, 3/8).
"The president did not lay out any new arguments about the health care package that he is urging Democrats to pass over Republican objections, and he only alluded once - when he mentioned an up-or-down vote - to the parliamentary tactic known as reconciliation, which he wants Democrats to employ to avoid a Republican filibuster," the New York Times writes. Obama said, "The United States Congress owes the people a final up or down vote on health care ... It's time to make a decision. The time for talk is over" (Cooper, 3/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.