President Set To Take Push for Health Care Overhaul to Congress
In a prime-time televised address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, President Obama will try to rally Congress to pass health reform legislation this year, the Washington Post reports (Murray/Montgomery, Washington Post, 9/9).
Obama is expected to present and explain the health reform proposals he favors, after taking a hands-off approach for much of the debate over an overhaul. However, he likely will not present his own reform plan (Powell/Dlouhy, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/9).
In an interview on "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning, Obama said
that the "intent of the speech" is to "A, make sure that the American people are clear [on] exactly what it is that we are proposing," and "B, to make sure that Democrats and Republicans understand that I'm open to new ideas, that we're not being rigid and ideological about this thing, but we do intend to get something done this year."
The president admitted that he made mistakes earlier in the year on reform by giving "Congress the ability to do their thing and not step on their toes," which "probably left too much ambiguity out there which allowed then opponents of reform to come in and to fill up the airwaves with a lot of nonsense" (Smith/McCarthy, ABC News, 9/9).
White House Officials, Lawmakers Give Preview of Speech
In a recorded message intended for radio, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius previewed Obama's speech, Politico's "44" reports.
She said, "We're entering a new phase in this important debate." She added, "President Obama will make the case for what is at stake for the American people in this debate, and he'll provide a clear direction for what a true reform plan is" (Burns , "44," Politico, 9/9).
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that no one who watches the speech will "walk away confused about" what initiatives Obama supports and why. He added, "I think [Obama] will answer many of the big questions about how we move forward on health care reform and what he considers reform to truly be" (Koffler, Roll Call, 9/9).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that Obama stated that his main goal is to "re-energize the way to do health care reform" while clearing up "ridiculous falsehoods" about certain reform initiatives that have been repeated by opponents at town-hall meetings across the country.
Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Obama on Tuesday to discuss elements of the president's upcoming speech (Washington Post, 9/9).
Obama To Broach Public Plan Option, Medical Liability
According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama in the speech will continue to endorse a public plan option designed to compete with private insurers. He is expected to say that the public plan option would not provide a level of subsidies that would give it an unfair advantage over private insurers (Weisman/Adamy, Wall Street Journal, 9/9).
However, Obama likely will not insist on the public plan, according to Pelosi. She said Obama will say in his speech that if lawmakers "have a better idea" to foster competition with private insurers, they should "put it on the table" (Washington Post, 9/9).
Meanwhile, Gibbs on Wednesday told CNN's "American Morning" that Obama also will discuss medical liability reform in the speech (Burns , "44," Politico, 9/9).
Experts Lay Out Pitfalls for Obama Speech
Political analysts have said that Obama must achieve varying goals in order to deliver a successful speech, USA Today reports.
Obama must first explain in greater detail all five health care bills being considered in Congress while avoiding being too specific and confusing viewers. Obama also must come across as tough and willing to defend his principles while appearing fair toward opponents and willing to compromise.
Also, experts believe Obama must defend his liberal base -- which supports a public plan option and generous subsidies to the uninsured -- without alienating moderates who support a public plan option only as a last resort and generally support the idea of not-for-profit health care cooperatives (Wolf, USA Today, 9/9).
GOP To Offer Minute-by-Minute 'Fact Checking,' Post-Speech Response
GOP leaders announced on Tuesday that they will respond minute-by-minute to Obama's speech with "fact checking" and that Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), a cardiothoracic surgeon with more than 20 years of medical experience, will deliver the Republican response immediately after the speech (Boston Globe, 9/9).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.