February 4th, 2010
07:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama calls for health care compromise, then vote

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama called Thursday for high-level talks with Republicans to work out a compromise on health care legislation, then putting the resulting bill to a vote in Congress.

"If Congress decides we're not going to do it, even after all the facts are laid out, after all the options are clear, then the American people can make a judgment as to whether this Congress has done the right thing for them or not," Obama said. "That's how democracy works."

Obama's comments were the first clear signal from the White House or Democrats in Congress on how they would proceed on a top legislative priority after losing their 60-seat super-majority in the Senate.

Republican Scott Brown was sworn in as the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts earlier Thursday, leaving the Democrats one vote shy of being able to overcome GOP filibusters of health care reform and other major initiatives.

Asked at a party fund-raising event about the Democratic strategy for health care reform going forward, Obama said Democratic leaders in the House and Senate were working out differences in the separate health care bills passed by each chamber last year.

Once that was finished, Obama said, the next step would be "to call on our Republican friends to present their ideas."

"What I'd like to do is to have a meeting whereby I'm sitting with the Republicans, sitting with the Democrats, sitting with health care experts, and let's just go through these bills - their ideas, our ideas - and walk through them and in a methodical way so that the American people can see and compare," Obama said.

"And then I think we've got to go ahead and move forward on a vote," he added. "We've got to move forward on a vote."

Democrat leaders in Congress have struggled to come up with a consensus strategy since the party lost its super-majority in the Senate. Republicans have unanimously opposed the health care bills so far, meaning Democrats would be unable to pass a bill through the Senate because of a certain GOP filibuster.

Brown, now the 41st Republican senator to give the GOP its unstoppable filibuster ability, said Thursday after his swearing-in that Congress should start over on the health care issue instead of continuing to work on existing proposals.

Republicans complain the comprehensive Democratic health care bills would lead to a government takeover of health care. They call for smaller steps focused on individual issues, such as limiting medical malpractice lawsuits.

Democrats, however, say that spiraling health care costs that threaten the nation's future economic stability can only be addressed through comprehensive reform.

Obama said Thursday the Democratic bill that will emerge from the House-Senate talks on joining their two proposals would expand coverage to at least 30 million Americans who currently lack health insurance while reducing long-term health care costs.

The measure would include an insurance exchange to allow people and small business owners to pool together to purchase coverage, Obama said, but he made no mention of a government-run public health insurance option that Republicans have rallied against.

Obama said the Democratic bill would include reforms that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing medical conditions or capping lifetime benefits.

"And by the way, all of it is paid for," Obama said. "Not only is it deficit-neutral, but the Congressional Budget Office, which is the bipartisan office that is the scorekeeper for much things cost in Congress, says it is going to reduce the costs by $1 trillion."

Obama called health care reform the "single best way to bring down our deficits," adding "nobody has disputed that."

"Nobody can dispute the fact that if we don't tackle surging health care costs, then we can't control our budget," he said.

While Democrats from both chambers have been working together to merge their two bills, alternative strategies also have been discussed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that the chamber would vote next week on one provision of its health care bill, which would drop the current anti-trust exemption for the insurance industry that allows practices such as market allocation.

The Senate bill would maintain the anti-trust exemption, so it was unclear if the House's limited first step would win approval there. However, Democratic aides have said that House Democrats want to keep momentum on health care going in coming weeks.

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. joel

    Do Republicans not get totally screwed by the heath care providers? Everyone I know thinks we need health care reform. Don't fool yourself the Republican party says they just don't like The Presidents plan, the truth is that they would never do anything about heath care not in a hundred years.

    February 4, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. obama the liar

    one character trait that obama is missing is humility–he has none....it was replaced with ego and more ego and more....

    February 4, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  3. crimsontide

    Nonsense. Barry, get over it. The citizenry has spoken and you lose on this one. Move on.

    February 4, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  4. Pragmatic

    Trouble with working (attempting to) with republican is that if they don't get 100% of what they want ... they vote "no" ... their way or the highway! Compromise is weak – never say die and all that silly stuff ... afraid they will not pass the "purity test" of the teapot people ... the same false commandments that even St. Ronald of Reagan wouldn't pass!

    February 4, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    President Obama, I know you are doing your level best to forge a bipartisan Congress, but, sir, it ain't gonna happen! The GOP are divisive, liars, fear mongers, that is the bottom line. The GOP do not care for the THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS WHO DIE EVERY YEAR BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE HEALTHCARE! (excuse the shouting)

    The GOP only cares for Big Insurance, Big Oil, Big Corporations (that have for years sent American jobs overseas).

    Mr. President, you and the Democrats have to push hard for Healthcare, fight sir for those who have NO VOICE!

    February 4, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    President Obama, please do not waste your and our time. Since you were sworn in as President, the Republicans have shown through words and actions that they do not want meaningful health care reform.

    All the Republicans want is for you and our country to fail, so they can score political points, in their desperate attempt to regain power.

    The facts have been laid out – and the one fact that stands above all else:

    The Republicans put their party before our country. They have been saying to heck with us; so I say, to heck with THEM!

    February 4, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |

    Please make the repugs understand! They are actually killing people daily!

    February 4, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Soaponarope

    Health Care is a moral issue. Either you believe that every human being has the right to good health or you don't. Either you feel connected to everyone or disconnected. It makes me sad to see people denied health care because they didn't earn it. It makes me sad to hear people say that they have great health care and truly believe they are immune to the health industry's practices of dropping people whenever they want. Call me whatever you want but I have compassion for my fellow man and even for those who choose to call me names.

    February 4, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Total BS

    If all the Dems do not support healthcare,I will not vote for any of them !!

    February 4, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. voter

    poor excuse. My patients cannot wait until the gop decides to govern to pass hcr. Reconciliation is the only way and the democrates need the cojones (excuse my spanish) to stand up to the right wing and do what is right for the american people.

    February 4, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. iamus

    Its about time!

    February 4, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  12. ww

    Great job mr. President! Now repubs instead of just saying no come to the table with something WORKABLE!if not you will be exposed for the obstructionists you've been!

    February 4, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    "If Congress decides we're not going to do it..."

    Far more to the point, the American people have decided we're not going to do it!

    February 4, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. T-u-u-u-r-r-n Out The Lights...

    Obama is transitioning into Lame Duck Barack. Better get workin' on the memoirs Barry !

    February 4, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. Brian

    The Republicans only are interested in the well-being of Republicans and will do whatever they have to – including destroying this country – to get back in power so that they can take care of their own. I expect them to fight Obama every inch of the way on every single issue until that strategy becomes a political liability – and then beyond that, since they are, for the most part, stupid; a fact that usually saves the Democrats from self-inflicted oblivian.

    February 4, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. Ken in NC

    Lesson learned from the loss of the SuperMajority should be that if you got the upper hand, use it. Next time do as Republicans have done when they had a SuperMajority. RAM IT THROUGH because you're not going to get help from the opposition. That's why they are called the opposition.

    If you beleive the bully is your friend even after each butt kicking you get, then you will be blessed with an endless supply of black eyes. Sooner or later you got to fight back Democrats. What Democrats have done with Health Care Reform is about like taking a knife to a gun fight. They just don't get it.

    February 4, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. found work without help of stimulus or obama

    is Obama going to lie to the GOP, probably, he is a lier and cheat.

    February 4, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. jules sand-perkins

    What a reversal by the President!
    Not so long ago, he, Ms. Pelosi, and company weren't going to include the Republicans at all in their health-care aspirations.
    What do you suppose happened to cause President Obama to change his mind about his Republican "friends?"

    February 4, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. all the news that's fit to omit

    I detest this loser, BUT, this is a good idea as long as it is not something to throw out to the biased msm and the sheeple to somehow appear above the fray.

    START with REAL tort reform, buying across state lines and no pre-existing conditions, them Obambi, we can talk.

    If this is one of your cowardly politically motivated charades, YOUR NEXT (in 2012).

    YOUR CALL COWARD, real or not?

    February 4, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  20. Hillary 2012 !!

    Step aside Barry. This is a job for a strong woman.

    February 4, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  21. bess

    what part of "The American people DON'T want this bill" doesn't Obama understand?

    do we need some sort of health care reform? YES
    do we need this bloated bill of excess and abuse? NO

    February 4, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  22. Scott, Tucson

    For starters obama can put tort reform into the bill but of course that would upset all his lawyer buddies. Than he can put all politicians on the same health care plan as he is trying to force us to partake in.
    But it's doubtful obamacare would come to fruition, he had his super majority in the Senate until today and was still unable to get his bill through.

    February 4, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. Ken

    Now that they no longer have a super-majority by a single vote the Democrats are interested in including the Republicans in their efforts to shove a government takeover of health care down our throats? After months of ignoring Republican proposals because Republican votes were not needed, locking Republicans out of discussions, and casting conservatives as the party of no, now they want to hear Republican ideas? Democrat hypocrisy is showing.

    February 4, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  24. Carl Peterson

    I keep saying it.....how are going to have a solid healthcare program without taking care of the immagration problem first. There are 20,000,000 illegals here. Who's going to cover their healthcare. American taxpayers are just like their doing now. It has cost us billions and billions of dollars, yet, not says one word about them. It is sickining to say the least. They have taken our jobs, broke our governments, local and national. STAND UP AMERICA!

    February 4, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  25. Mickey

    The Republicans have no ideas...all they know is "NO". So don't look for anything intelligent to come from this domestic terrorist organization known as the GOP...it just 'aint happenin'!

    February 4, 2010 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
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