Obama Finds Enthusiastic Crowd in College Park

Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:30pm

President Barack Obama on Thursday brought his familiar message on health care to a less familiar crowd, speaking to college students on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park.Obama received overwhelming support from young voters on Election Day, and the White House could expect — and got — an enthusiastic audience to rev up Obama’s standard health care speech.The president compared his health care effort to the struggle for civil rights and women’s voting rights.Obama mentioned his support for a public insurance option as part of health care reform, asserting that no one will be forced to choose it. He said he remains open to new ideas but that he would not talk to those who have made a political “calculation— to oppose him.Earlier at the White House, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that she will begin dispensing $25 million in grants “to states, localities, and health systems to try out new patient safety and medical liability models.—The demonstration program, designed to hold down medical malpractice suits and awards, is already part of legislation working its way through the House. Sebelius said the administration’s new program should complement and not replace the provision in the House bill.Republicans have long sought to limit malpractice awards, but the new Obama initiative falls far short of the malpractice award caps sought by many in the GOP.The initiative will include strategies designed to reduce preventable injuries to patients and “foster better communication— between patients and doctors, Sebelius said. It would attempt to reduce frivolous lawsuits and liability premiums for doctors.