Obama hopes to win support on health care reform with primetime address

With the health reform debate raging on into yet another month with no firm consensus on a plan yet, President Barack Obama will look to convince the public - as well as some of his political foes and allies - of the importance of reform tonight when he addresses a joint session of Congress that will be simulcast on television during prime time.

With the health reform debate raging on into yet another month with no firm consensus on a plan yet, President Barack Obama will look to convince the public - as well as some of his political foes and allies - of the importance of reform tonight when he addresses a joint session of Congress that will be simulcast on television during prime time.

"They will know the plan provides safety, security and stability to the millions of people that have health insurance each and every day, but watching their premiums skyrocket and double," spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN's American Morning on Wednesday.

"Secondly, for those who don't have health insurance, but need affordable coverage, he will lay out a plan for how people can get that, as well," Gibbs added. He'll talk about the cost on government and why we can't afford to wait longer. We have to act now."
Obama will also uses the address to raise the idea that a government-run option would lead to more competition into the health care system, but would also stress that his administration was open to hearing other ideas that could lead to reform, a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press.

The statement would seem to agree in tone with statements made by Obama on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday in which he said he was "open to new ideas" regarding reform.

"We're not being rigid and ideological about this thing," he added.

In addition to hearing their fair share of criticism regarding reforms from the GOP as well as certain segments of the public surveys have found that while younger people generally support reform, older people do not) Obama's proposals have also led to some disagreement and confusion in the Democratic camp. On Tuesday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a statement calling the inclusion of a public option "essential" if it was going to be passed in the House of Representatives.

The statement came after both House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn implied that it may be possible to pass legislation without a public option.

Furthermore, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus - also a democrat - announced that he and a bipartisan group of five other politicians had developed a plan that would make health insurance mandatory in all states, much like most states which currently require auto insurance.

However, Baucus' plan - which would set fines for those without insurance that Obama had previously rejected - was perhaps most notable because it contained no public option.

Baucus' plan would cover approximately 97 percent of Americans and cost $900 billion over the next 10 years and be paid for through Fees on insurance companies, drug makers, medical device manufacturers and insurers as well as a tax of 35 percent on insurance plans costing above $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families, according to the Associated Press.

Yahoo reported that Baucus had been trying to drum up support with a group of non-partisan contributors for his plan before Obama's speech.

"Time is running out very quickly," he said. "I made that very clear to the group."

Obama's primetime address was written mostly by him and will run about 35 minutes long and will, according to Gibbs, provide a simple outline of his plans to help fuel support for his reform ideas.

"What we're going to hear tonight is, the president's going to speak clearly and directly to the American people about what's in this bill for them," Gibbs said, according to the AP.

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Posted: September 9, 2009

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