Obama Lauds AARP Backing of Health Care Bill

President Obama showed up at the regular White House press briefing to spotlight two endorsements for the House version of the health care reform bill: One from the AARP, the powerful seniors lobby, and the other from the American Medical Association.

"When it comes to the AARP, this is no small endorsement," the president said.

"They are a nonpartisan organization and their board made their decision to endorse only after a careful, intensive, objective scrutiny of this bill," he told reporters. "They're endorsing this bill because they know it will strengthen Medicare, not jeopardize it; they know it will protect the benefits our seniors receive, not cut them."

The president went on to argue that the endorsement represents a rebuke of efforts by opponents to convince seniors that the health care reform is bad news for them.

"I want everybody to remember that the next time you hear the same tired arguments to the contrary from the insurance companies and their lobbyists, and remember this endorsement the next time you see a bunch of misleading ads on television," he said.

As for the AMA, the president said the group of doctors and medical professionals "would not be supporting it if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors."

"They would not be with us if they believed that reform would in any way damage the critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship," he said.

The president said AMA members have "seen firsthand what's broken about our health care system."

"We are closer to passing this reform than ever before," the president said. "And now that the doctors and medical professionals of America are standing with us, now that the organizations charged with looking out for the interest of seniors are standing with us, we are even closer."

"I urge Congress to listen to AARP, listen to the AMA, and pass this reform for hundreds of millions of Americans who will benefit from it," he concluded.

The president left the briefing without taking questions. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs then stepped to the podium and quipped, "Now that the warm-up band is finished playing..."

"I'll probably only get to say that once or twice in my life. I might as well try today," he added, amid laughter from reporters.