Obama Gets Tough on Timeline for Passing Health Reform

Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:13pm

Updated: 2:27 p.m.

Using some of his strongest language yet, President Barack Obama on Wednesday said the House and Senate should both pass health care bills before the August recess.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama said Tuesday’s unveiling of a House bill and Wednesday’s approval of legislation by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee should “provide the urgency for both the House and the Senate to finish their critical work on health reform before the August recess.—

The president, who had been accused of not engaging enough in the health care reform debate, came close to insisting that Congress stick around until it gets done.

“We’re going to be continually talking about this for the next two to three weeks, until we’ve got a bill out of the Senate and we’ve got a bill out of the House,— adding that afterward everyone could “get a few weeks rest.—

Obama sought to assure individuals who are satisfied with their health insurance that they would benefit under a new system. The president has generally told people who like their plans that they could “keep— them, but during a Rose Garden event Wednesday afternoon, he went further:

“Here’s what else reform will mean for you: You’ll save money,— he said. “If you lose your job, change your job, or start a new business, you’ll still be able to find quality health insurance you can afford. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, no insurance company will be able to deny you coverage.—

Republicans generally argue that the government insurer, backed by public funds, would be so powerful and attractive that it would squeeze private plans out of the market and force people to take the government option.

Obama stood with officials from the American Nurses Association, the latest in a line of health organizations the White House has assembled to try to show support from the health sector for his reform plans.

Obama said the Senate’s HELP bill included “more than 160 Republican amendments,— which he called “a hopeful sign of bipartisan support for the final product — if people are serious about bipartisanship.—