Obama pitches health care at college campus

September 17, 2009 6:56:53 PM PDT
President Barrack Obama took his health care agenda back out on the road Thursday. He held a campaign-style rally before a very supportive crowd at the University of Maryland.

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"It is good to be back at the University of Maryland," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama told an enthusiastically supportive audience that a publicly funded insurance option will offer more choice.

"And put pressure on private insurers to make their policies affordable and treat their customers better," he said.

At her weekly press conference, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi echoed the president's pitch.

"Affordability for the middle class this is central to us, affordability for the middle class, accountability of insurance companies and think the public option is the best way to do that," she said.

One day after Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Montana) compromise bill failed to win congressional backing from either side, the battle lines again are being drawn around the government funded public insurance option.

"The American people are rejecting the liberal big government approach, they don't want an approach that puts government first, they want an approach that put patients first," Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) said.

Republicans on Capitol Hill point to the sometimes raucous town hall meetings to illustrate that Americans do not want the public option.

But the New England Journal of Medicine just published a poll of doctors showing nearly 63 percent favoring a publicly funded insurance option.

Among those doctors supporting a public option is the medical director of Oakland's Asian Health Services, which serves a large percentage of low income and uninsured patients.

"The fact that it's an option for people and it basically adds choice to the system, I think that's a very good thing for the system," Dr. George Lee said.

At an Asian Health Care Forum this week, 300 people gathered in Oakland's Chinatown.

Sanggue Son, a Korean immigrant living in Fremont, says cost is his biggest concern. He says private insurance is too expensive.

"Even their $5 co-pay for their medications, that's really a difficult choice for them," Lee said, translating for Son.

Covering the poor and making the plan affordable for the middle class and not increasing the deficit is what the president is promising.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) Thursday shared his assessment of the president's chances.

"I don't think there is any chance that these big government health care proposals are going to pass either the House or the Senate," he said.

Friday, first lady Michelle Obama joins the push for the president's health care plan. She is delivering a speech in Washington on the need for health insurance reform and its impact on women and families. On the campaign trail they called her "the closer."

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