Obama to Voters: Stand with Me on Health Care

Barack Obama

Democrats still need the votes to pass comprehensive health care legislation, and President Obama today appealed to the public to help push their representatives to vote for his proposal. 

"They need to hear your voices because right now the Washington echo chamber is in full throttle," President Obama said today at a town hall at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania. "The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand."

Some Democrats are hesitating to support President Obama's latest proposal because of conclusions from Republicans and the media that the bill will be politically damaging, the president noted. He said it should not matter whether it is a hard vote to take. 

"What's hard is what millions of families and small businesses are going through because we allow insurance companies to run wild," Mr. Obama said. "I don't know how passing health care reform will play politically, but I know it's the right thing to do. If you share that belief, I want you to stand with me

and fight with me."

The president charged that the current health care system works better for insurance companies than for the American people and focused on how his proposal would help people like the students at Arcadia. 

"How much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance?" he asked. "How many more years can the federal budget handle the crushing costs of Medicare and Medicaid? That's the debt you're going to have to pay, young people."

The president elicited cheers from the crowd as he checked off reforms that would go into place within a year, such as prohibiting insurance companies from dropping customers when they become sick, and allowing children to stay on their parents' health care plans until they turn 26 years old.

Mr. Obama also charged Republicans with taking a politically convenient but ineffective position by advocating incremental reform. 

"They want me to pretend to do something that doesn't really help," he said. 

Mr. Obama told the crowd the time for reform is now, "and that's why you're here today."