After delivering a major speech on health care to Congress and the American on Wednesday people the president made his latest appeal to a group of nurses in Washington.
President Obama is repeating the message he sent in his address to Congress: It is time to stop arguing about health care reform.
"But we have talked this issue to death, year after year, decade after decade," he said. "And the time for talk is winding down. The time for bickering has passed. We're not the first generation to take up this cause. But we can - and have to be - the last."
The president went before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night to give details of his $900-billion proposal, which could include a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurance companies, Voice of America reports.
News agencies also report, Obama mentioned how much he loves nurses – “Michelle knows about it,” he smiled – and recalled their role in the deliveries of his daughters and in helping his mother and grandmother through their final illnesses.
The president also used the forum to publicize new census figures released Thursday showing that the poverty rate rose to its highest level since the early 1990s, and that the number of uninsured rose in 2008. The latter figure now stands at 46. 3 million, up from 38.4 million in 2000.
In an analysis, the health reform advocacy group Families USA stated that the new Census Bureau data “substantially understate” how many people lack health coverage today, because unemployment is much higher now (9.7 percent in August) than last year (when it ranged from 4.8 percent to 7.2 percent). Families USA estimates the number of uninsured today “is probably close to 50 million,” the Christian Science Monitor reports.
Besides, Mr. Obama did embrace some fresh proposals. He announced a new initiative to create pilot projects intended to curb medical malpractice lawsuits, a cause important to physicians and Republicans.
He endorsed a plan, included in a proposal by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to help pay for expanding coverage by taxing insurance companies that offer expensive, so-called gold-plated insurance plans. And the president promised to include a provision that “requires us to come forward with more spending cuts” if the savings he envisions do not materialize.
As Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor made clear on Thursday, Republicans are clearly primed for a fight; many, like Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who has been deeply involved in health negotiations, released statements about the speech even before it began. Mr. Grassley called on Mr. Obama to “start building the kind of legislation that could win the support of 70 to 80 senators,” a goal Mr. Grassley said could not be achieved if the bill contained a new government plan, the New York Times reports.