March 8th, 2010
04:00 PM ET

Obama slams health insurance companies

President Obama makes another push for health insurance reform at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

[Updated] President Barack Obama tore into private health insurers for recent rate hikes Monday, taking a more aggressive rhetorical turn as the administration continued to push for final congressional passage of the president's top domestic priority.

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He repeated his assertion that the plan now being considered includes the best Democratic and Republican ideas.  The time for debate, he argued, has ended.

The White House has called for sweeping reform legislation to be on the president's desk before the congressional Easter break at the end of the month.

Congress "owes the American people a final up or down vote on health care.  It's time to make a decision," he told an enthusiastic crowd at Arcadia University near Philadelphia.

"Stand with me and fight with me. ... Let's seize reform.  It's within our grasp."

Two Democratic leadership aides told CNN last week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aiming to have the House of Representatives pass the Senate's health care bill by March 17.

A separate package of changes designed in part to make the overall measure more palatable to House liberals would then be approved by both chambers - getting through the Senate under a controversial legislative maneuver known as reconciliation.  Bills passed under reconciliation require only a bare Senate majority of 51 votes.

[Posted 10:53 a.m.] President Barack Obama is set to rip private health insurers for recent rate hikes Monday in a speech to be delivered outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House.

The administration is ramping up its push for final congressional passage of the president's top domestic priority in the coming weeks.  The White House has called for sweeping reform legislation to be on the president's desk before the congressional Easter vacation at the end of the month.

Two Democratic leadership aides told CNN last week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aiming to have the House of Representatives pass the Senate's health care bill by March 17.

A separate package of changes designed in part to make the overall measure more palatable to House liberals would then be approved by both chambers through a controversial legislative maneuver known as reconciliation. Bills passed under reconciliation only require a bare Senate majority of 51 votes.

Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60-seat Senate supermajority with the election of Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown in January.

According to the excerpts of his remarks, Obama will target Anthem Blue Cross in California for recently boosting its rates by almost 40 percent.  He will by introduced by a diabetic Philadelphia-area woman who was told by her insurer in January that her rates would more than double.

"Every year, insurance companies deny more people coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. Every year, they drop more people's coverage when they're sick and need it most," Obama says in the excerpts. "These insurance companies have made a calculation," he argues.

The president cites a recent Goldman Sachs conference call in which an insurance broker told investors that insurers are willing to lose some customers through premium hikes because of overall lack of competition in the industry.

"They will keep doing this for as long as they can get away with it," he says.  "So how much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it?  How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance?"

The Senate's top Republican made clear Sunday that his party won't relax any of its efforts to block the reform package.

"What the American people would like us to do is not make this gargantuan mistake," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC's "This Week."

And if the bill does go through, avoiding a Republican filibuster in the Senate by using reconciliation, the battle will move to its next stage, he added.

"Every election this fall will be a referendum on this bill," McConnell warned.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Congress • Health Care
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Chris

    It's shameful that this planet's greatest country and world leader is woefully difficient with providing health care for its citizens. A healthy population leads to a healthy economy and that is what Americans need right now.

    March 17, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |