COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (CNN) – President Barack Obama took his health care reform message back on the road again Thursday, promising a raucous crowd of college students that Congress will pass legislation this year.
"We will get this done," he said at a campaign-style rally at the University of Maryland. "In the United States, nobody should go broke because
they get sick."
The president slammed GOP critics for attacking his reform plan to "score short-term political points." Some Republicans "want to kill Obama care," he said, but their solutions "amount to the same old, same old. ... I will not accept the status quo as a solution."
This "is when the special interests gear up" and spread distortions, he warned.
The president has increasingly tapped the "bully pulpit" power of the presidency in recent weeks to spark new momentum for his number one domestic priority.
Obama's latest remarks came a day after the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee unveiled his long-awaited compromise health care plan.
Montana Sen. Max Baucus' proposal would cost $774 billion over 10 years while reducing the federal deficit by $49 billion, according to the
non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
The plan would require all Americans to have health insurance, but lacks a government-run public health insurance option favored by Obama and most Democrats. The budget office review estimated the proposal would leave 25 million people uninsured by 2019 - about a third of them illegal immigrants - compared to 46 million people currently without health-care coverage.
The plan came under immediate criticism from Republicans, including three members of Baucus' Finance Committee who participated in months of negotiations with him and two other committee Democrats. Some liberal Democrats also dislike it for dropping the public insurance option.
The White House, however, welcomed the plan as a step forward in the health care debate. Baucus called it a pragmatic proposal with a realistic chance of passing the Senate and noted its similarity to a framework for health care legislation laid out by Obama during his speech to Congress last week.
The Senate Finance Committee is the last of five congressional committees needed to approve health care proposals before the topic can be taken up by both the full Senate and the full House of Representatives.
Various forms of the legislation proposed by Democrats have already cleared three House committees, as well as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.