Obama: Give Health Care More than a Week

Barack Obama

Polls suggest the nation is still divided over health care reform -- but it takes longer than a week for change to happen, President Obama told a crowd in Portland, Maine today.

"You have to love some of the pundits in Washington," Mr. Obama said. "Every day since I signed reform into law, there's another poll or headline that says 'Nation still divided on health reform. No great surge in public support.' Well, yeah. It's only been a week!"

A CBS News poll released the day after Mr. Obama signed the health care bill into law showed that nearly two in three Americans wanted Republicans in Congress to continue challenging parts of the legislation.

In his continued efforts to boost public perception of the reforms, the president today emphasized the benefits that will come to fruition the most quickly, particularly the economic benefits such as tax credits to help small businesses insure their employees.

"This health care tax credit is pro-jobs, it's pro-business, and it starts this year," Mr. Obama said. The details for how to apply for the tax credits will be sent to millions of small businesses this month, he said.

This year, the new laws will also allow some individuals with pre-existing conditions to acquire insurance, institute other insurance regulations and allow children to stay on their parents' health care plans up to the age of 26 years old, the president said.

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"This reform will not solve every problem with our health care system," Mr. Obama said. "It's not bring down the cost of health care overnight. We'll have to make some adjustments along the way."

Democrats will also have to answer to Republicans, who are vowing to "repeal and replace" the legislation. While Mr. Obama has already dared Republicans to run on repealing the bill, he acknowledged today that the GOP slogan has become more nuanced.

"When you poke and prod and you ask them what it is exactly you're going to replace it with, it turns out they want to deregulate the insurance market," he said. "We've already been there. We know what that's like. We're not going back."