In Ohio, Obama Presses for Health-Care Reform Bill

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 23, 2009 3:27 PM

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Continuing his campaign to win support for an overhaul of the nation's health care system, President Obama came to the is wealthy Cleveland suburb to again make his case that reform is an urgent national priority.

Obama used the appearance to tout his administration's accomplishment, saying stimulus spending and other programs had stemmed job losses and stopped the nation's economic slide.

And he praised the "citizens who defied the cynics and the skeptics who went to the polls to demand real and lasting change. This change was the cause of my campaign, and it is the cause of my presidency."

His comments echoed the presidential news conference Obama held the previous night, targeting middle-class Americans and seeking to calm their fears about the impact of the sweeping health reform legislation he is pushing for.

"I want to be clear: reform isn't just about the nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance," Obama said. "Though I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, 'How does my family, or my business, stand to benefit from health insurance reform? What's in this for me?' I want to answer those questions today."

The president again pledged that his proposals would benefit average Americans, provide a medical safety net and would save the country from economic ruin.

As concern about the cost and other impacts of an overhaul of the nation's health care system seems to be growing both among the public and in Congress, Obama has stepped up his efforts to win over the public.

Still, while multiple committees in Congress are working on different versions of a reform plan, momentum for a quick vote evaporated today when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) announced the chamber would not vote on health care legislation before beginning its recess on August 7. But Obama today expressed no doubt that he would succeed in his goal, saying "we can once again summon this American spirit. That we can rescue our economy and rebuild it stronger than before. And that, yes, we can achieve quality, affordable health care for every single American. That is what we are called upon to do. And that is what we will do."

In response to a question from an audience member about Congress not meeting his timetable for passage of the legislation, Obama said he still wanted to see reform enacted this year, but added of the delay, "that's OK. I just want people to keep on working."

Obama also took a tour of the Cleveland Clinic, a health system that his administration has cited as an exemplar of efficient health care delivery because it is able to deliver first-class care at much lower costs than most other institutions.

The effort of health care continues a nearly two-week streak of public statements and appearances by Obama in an effort to push his health care plan, which is facing opposition from Congressional Republicans who oppose his vision of reform. The plans emerging in Congress also are facing significant questions from moderate Democrats concerned about the cost of retooling the health care system and how it will be financed.

For his part, Obama said he wants to see a plan that expands coverage to the vast majority of the 46 million Americans who lack it. At the same time, he said, reform should change the incentive system in health care in a way that slows the growth of health care costs, which have far outstripped the overall inflation rate in recent years.

In addition, Obama has said, he would not sign any health reform legislation that is projected to add to the nation's long-term deficit

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