Mar 092010

“EVERYTHING there is to say about health care has been said and just about everyone has said it…now is the time to make a decision.” So declared President Barack Obama to an audience of doctors and nurses gathered at the White House. After a year of dithering, he is now leaping into action.

Stirring memories of his campaign for the White House, President Barack Obama made a spirited, shirt-sleeved appeal for passage of long-stalled health care changes Monday as Democratic congressional leaders worked behind the scenes on legislation they hope can quickly gain passage.

“Let’s seize reform. It’s within our grasp,” the president implored his audience at Arcadia University, the first outside-the-Beltway appearance since he vowed last week to do everything in his power to push his health care plan into law.

The president’s pitch was part denunciation of insurance companies – “they continue to ration care on the basis of who’s sick and who’s healthy,” he said – and part criticism of his Republican critics. “You had 10 years. What happened? What were you doing?” he taunted members of a party that held the White House for eight years and control of Congress for a dozen.

After months of uncertainty, a road map for passing comprehensive health care reform is finally at hand, one that could send a bill to Barack Obama’s desk by the end of March. But it is going to require House and Senate Democrats to put aside their mutual suspicions, join hands and take a political leap worthy of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Obama finally laid down his demand for action in a speech on March 3 at the White House. “No matter which approach you favor, I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on health care reform. We have debated this issue thoroughly, not just for a year but for decades,” he said. “I have therefore asked leaders in both houses of Congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks.

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