Obama To Hit the Road With Effort To Promote National Health Reform
President Obama is scheduled to travel to Philadelphia on Monday and St. Louis on Wednesday in an effort to generate public support for health reform legislation and encourage lawmakers to cast a final vote on the overhaul, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Pace, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/8).
Obama's tour is a continuation of more direct efforts by the president to guide the reform process, following his bipartisan health reform summit and the release of his own overhaul proposal.
According to observers, Obama's road lobbying might be coming at a time when the public is more receptive to the message. White House officials and Democratic pollsters said recent polls have shown an increase in support for health reform.
However, three polls from late February indicate that opposition to Democrats' health reform plans ranged from 47% to 52%, while support ranged from 41% to 44% (Thrush/Budoff Brown, Politico, 3/8).
Sebelius Blames GOP for Reform Delay
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently blamed delays in passing a reform package on Obama having to spend "far too much time talking about what's not in the bill" and trying to settle "wild accusations" by Republicans.
Sebelius said Obama is still hoping for some Republican votes on health reform legislation.
Sebelius also said that she believes that the House will meet Obama's March 18 deadline, but that the president would not abandon reform if the House does not act by then (AP/Washington Post, 3/7).
Obama Condemns Insurer Actions
Obama also used his weekly address to criticize health insurers for failing to give "straight answers" on why they are "arbitrarily and massively" increasing their premiums.
He used insurers raising rates as a primary reason for the need for reform, saying, "If we do not act, [insurers] will continue to do this" (Colvin, Reuters, 3/6).
Obama cited a new analysis by New York investment bank Goldman Sachs that recommends investors buy shares in insurers UnitedHealth Group and Cigna because insurance rates are increasing while competition is down. White House officials said the analysis would act as a "centerpiece" for the administration's argument for reform (Herszenhorn, New York Times, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.