‘Fired up’ Obama eyes health care endgame in a ‘few weeks’

‘FIRED UP’ OBAMA EYES HEALTH CARE ENDGAME IN A ‘FEW WEEKS’…. President Obama will host two rallies in support of health care reform this week, and the first was held this morning at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.

The president didn’t exactly break new ground or change the pitch in any meaningful way, but there were a few parts that stood out for me.

A significant part of the message was Obama calling out Republicans. As you’ve probably noticed, the president has avoided partisan messages throughout the reform debate, but those days are over.

“We’ve been talking about health care for nearly a century. I’m reading a biography of Teddy Roosevelt right now. He was talking about it. Teddy Roosevelt. We have failed to meet this challenge during periods of prosperity and also during periods of decline. Some people say, ‘Well, don’t do it right now because the economy is weak.’ When the economy was strong, we didn’t do it. We’ve talked about it during Democratic administrations and Republican administrations. I got all my Republican colleagues out there saying, ‘Well, no, no, no, we want to focus on things like cost.’ You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing? […]

“[W]hat should I tell these Americans [who are being hurt by the status quo]? That Washington is not sure how it will play in November? That we should walk away from this fight, or do something — do something like some on the other side of the aisle have suggested, ‘Well, we’ll do it incrementally; we’ll take baby steps.’ They want me to pretend to do something that doesn’t really help these folks.”

The president also emphasized a point he touched on during his weekly address: a lot of important and popular provisions would take effect this year if reform gets done.

“Within the first year of signing health care reform, thousands of uninsured Americans with preexisting conditions would suddenly be able to purchase health insurance for the very first time in their lives, or the first time in a long time.

“This year, insurance companies will be banned forever from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. This year, they will be banned from dropping your coverage when you get sick. And they will no longer be able to arbitrarily and massively hike your premiums — just like they did to Leslie or Natoma or millions of others Americans. Those practices will end.

“If this reform becomes law, all new insurance plans will be required to offer free preventive care to their customers starting this year — free check-ups so that we can catch preventable illnesses on the front end. Starting this year, there will be no more lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care that you can receive from your insurance companies.”

It’s another subtle reminder to congressional Democrats that if they get this done, they’ll have popular reform measures to point to during their re-election campaigns.

In terms of next steps, the president didn’t talk about reconciliation or procedural issues — though he did re-emphasize the importance of an “up-or-down vote” — but he did ask his supporters to “help us get us over the finish line these next few weeks.”

As for the general tone of the event, Obama acknowledged early on, after noting the size of the crowd, “I’m kind of fired up.” If there are any doubts about the passion the president is bringing to the fight, consider the last couple of minutes of his speech: