Obama tells lawmakers not to allow disagreements to kill health reform

President Barack Obama urged fellow Democrats on Tuesday afternoon not to let growing policy differences kill hopes for healthcare reform legislation.

Emphasizing the significant areas in which Democrats have reached consensus, Obama seemed resigned to the fact that neither a public option nor a Medicare buy-in would be included in the Senate bill.

"The final bill won't include everything that eveybody wants, " Obama said after meeting with Senate Demcorats. "[But] we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a longsatanding and urgent problem for the American people."

Obama's comments come as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has almost single-handedly forced Democrats to give up hopes of including a Medicare buy-in plan. That policy was itself a compromise from a full public option.

The president tried to emphasize the less controversial components of the bill that have universal support within the caucus, such as banning insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and expanding coverage through generous subsidies.

"These aren't small changes," Obama said. "These are big changes."

Despite the recent setbacks for Democrats, the president said that failing to pass any reform was unacceptable.

"If we don't get this done, your premiums are guaranteed to go up," he said. "If this does not get done, more employers are going to drop coverage because they can't afford it. If this does not get done, it is guaranteed that Medicare and Medicaid will blow a hole through our budget."

The president went on to frame the compromise bill as a victory for his priorities, claiming it met all the broad principles he laid out in his speech to Congress in September.

"Any fair reading of this bill will indicate that all the criteria I laid out when I met before a joint session have been met," the president said.

In that speech, Obama pushed for a public option. While saying he was open to other ideas, he promised he would "not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can't find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice."