President Barack Obama ratcheted up his attacks against insurance companies this morning in a last-ditch attempt to get a reluctant public and skittish Democrats behind his health care overhaul legislation. Obama contended that insurers have calculated that they'll make more money by denying coverage to some and jacking up rates on others. "And they will keep doing this for as long as they can get away with it," Obama said in excerpts of a speech he will d e l i ve r l a t e r t o d ay i n Philadelphia. "So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it?" O b a m a ' s p i t c h i n Philadelphia, along with a stop in St. Louis Wednesday, comes as the president begins an allout effort to pass his health care proposals. The next two weeks will prove decisive, with the White House pushing for House action by March 18, when Obama leaves for an Asia trip. Obama has long made insurers a target in his drive for revamping the health care system. But administration officials have turned up the heat in recent weeks, seizing on planned rate increases in California and elsewhere, as well as comments from an insurer broker on a conference call to investors organized by Goldman Sachs. Obama cited the broker's comments that insurance companies sometimes see it as more profitable to drop or deny coverage to some and raise prices on others. Insurers have blamed rising rates on the growing price tag of prescription drugs, hospital stays and other medical costs. Obama is trying to persuade the public to back his plan to remake the nation's health care system, while also urging uneasy lawmakers to cast a "final vote" for the massive legislation in an election year. Though his plan has received only modest public support, Obama has implored lawmakers to show political courage and not let a historic opportunity slip away. Despite staunch Republican opposition, Democratic leaders are cautiously optimistic they can pass a bill without GOP votes. "I think the trend is in the right direction because people see that the status quo is absolutely broken," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." Party leaders are narrowing in on a strategy that calls for House Democrats to go along with a health care bill the Senate passed in December. Obama would sign it into law, but senators would promise to make numerous changes on issues that have concerned House Democrats. Because Senate Democrats lost the 60-seat majority needed to stop GOP f i l ibusters wi th the Massachusetts Senate race, the changes would have to be made under rules that require only simple majority votes. That strategy would put lawmakers on track to meet Obama's goal of the House passing a health care bill by March 18, when he leaves on a trip to Indonesia and Australia.
Obama appeals for public support on health care
Published: Monday, March 8th, 2010
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