Obama Attacks Insurers, Rallies Public To Press Congress To Approve Health Reform
"The White House is mounting a stinging, sustained broadside against health insurance rate increases," The Washington Post reports, adding that President Obama "and his health secretary staged a two-pronged attack Monday in a stern letter to health insurance chief executives and a speech in which the president castigated insurance companies 22 times. 'How much higher do premiums have to rise,' he demanded, 'before we do something about it?'"
The president gave an impassioned speech in Philadelphia Monday. "'Part of the motivating factor here is letting members of Congress know there's a price to pay for failure,' White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday in an interview." In the meantime "America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's main lobby, plans to spend more than $1 million on a nationwide advertising campaign this week to, as one official with the group said, 'set the record straight about rising health-care costs'" (Goldstein and Wilson, 3/9).
Kaiser Health News has additional coverage of news stories regarding the health insurance industry in today's Morning Edition.
The New York Times: "In a high-octane appearance that harked back to his 'yes we can' campaign days, Mr. Obama jettisoned the professorial demeanor that has cloaked many of his public pronouncements on the issue, instead making an emotional pitch for public support as he tries to push the legislation through a final series of votes in Congress in the next several weeks" (Cooper and Herszenhorn, 3/8).
CNN has video excerpts of the speech.
Los Angeles Times: "Obama said that Washington pundits obsessed with analyzing the political repercussions of a yes or no vote on healthcare are distracting lawmakers from what's fundamentally at stake: If Congress fails to act, the president said, premiums will rise, insurers will deny coverage based on preexisting conditions and more people will be without insurance. 'They need to hear your voices because right now the Washington echo chamber is in full throttle,' Obama (said) 'It is as deafening as it's ever been. And as we come to that final vote, that echo chamber is telling members of Congress, wait, think about the politics - instead of thinking about doing the right thing.'" A Democratic aide told the Times Obama's speeches "create political space for members to cast a vote in support of the bill" (Nicholas, 3/9).
USA Today: "None of the House members from Pennsylvania whose votes are in doubt attended Obama's speech. Only his firm backers were present, including Sen. Arlen Specter whose switch from Republican to Democrat last year gave Democrats the 60-vote supermajority they needed to pass a first version of the health care bill in December."
The president declared that "'The issue here is not the politics of it.' It was a reference to Republicans' threats to work against any vulnerable Democrats who support the bill, which has put passage in doubt" (Wolf, 3/8).
The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Obama slammed Republicans for their opposition to the Democrats' proposals, saying they had failed to act when they controlled Congress. 'I got all my Republican colleagues out there saying, "Well, no, no, no, we want to focus on things like cost,"' the president said. 'You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing?'" (Fitzgerald, 3/9).
CongressDaily: "Time is running out for Obama to win votes for his overhaul proposal, since he and Democratic congressional leaders are pushing for a vote by March 18." CongressDaily notes: "Only four days after promising progressive Democrats that sometime in the future he could once again support a public option, he made it clear that that time had not yet come. It is not 'practical or realistic' to support a 'government-run' system at this point, he said" (Condon, 3/8).
The Washington Times: "[Obama's] national disapproval rating on health care hovers at 52 percent compared with an approval rating of 39 percent, according to National Journal's Pollster.com average of national polls. Though Democrats still claim that the American public is on their side, Mr. Obama has retooled his argument in recent weeks to stress that health care reform is the right thing to do, regardless of political implications" (Rowland, 3/9).