(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Obama responded directly on Monday to Republican opponents to health care reform who have commented on the political nature of the debate, saying that the issue is not about politics but about the unsustainable cost of the current health care system.
On a conference call on Friday organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said, "If we're able to stop Obama on (health care), it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."
"Think about that," Mr. Obama said Monday, speaking from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families, breaking America's businesses and breaking America's economy."
He said "there are too many lives and livelihoods at stake" to politicize the debate.
The president restated his promise to cut the costs of health care over the long run and reiterated his point that the reimbursement system for health care providers must be changed to provide the right incentives.
"In a city like Washington, D.C., you've got all the doctors in one half of the city, very few doctors in the other half of the city," Mr. Obama said. "And part of that has to do with just the manner in which reimbursement is taking place and the disincentives for doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants in caring for those who are most in need."
The president made the remarks after sitting in on a roundtable discussion about health care reform with workers at the medical center.
The president assailed insurance companies that have "reaped windfall profits from a broken system."
Commenting that Washington has a tendency toward inertia, Mr. Obama said lawmakers will have to get over "the politics of the moment" to pass health care reform this year.
"We always knew passing health care reform wouldn't be easy. We always knew doing what is right would be hard," he said. "We're a country that chooses the harder right over the easier wrong... We have to do that once more."