By Tony Romm - 09/12/09 07:02 PM EDT
Reminiscent shouts of “Yes we can!” and “Fired up, ready to go!” periodically drowned out President Barack Obama’s healthcare speech in Minnesota on Sunday – an echo of the position he staked during his address to Congress on Wednesday.
Before a packed Target Center in Minneapolis, the president reaffirmed his plan to lower the cost of care, cover more Americans and prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Obama’s rally on Saturday – interspersed with a few campaign war stories – furthered the administration’s latest push to make the case for reform to Americans who already have health insurance. The White House debuted its new strategy with this week’s radio address, when the president revealed a new Treasury Department finding that about half of all Americans will lack health coverage at some point over the next 10 years.
The president emphasized those numbers again in Minnesota, adding that roughly 6 million Americans have lost their health insurance in the past 12 months.
“More than one-third will go without coverage for longer than one year,” Obama said during the rally. “In other words, it can happen to anyone. There but for the grace of God go I.”
But the president’s remarks likely did not satisfy Republicans, who played offensive Saturday morning with a press event of their own. Their chief complaint is that Obama’s plan is virtually inseparable from the House’s proposal – a bill predicated on the public option that the GOP vehemently opposes.
"The question is: Is he selling the bill, HR 3200, or is he selling his plan? It's hard to tell," Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) told reporters in a "pre-buttal" of Obama's speech. “It’s a plan without any details; we don’t know what it is he's selling,” the congressman reiterated.
Obama’s speech touched specifically on none of the proposals currently before Congress, and omitted any talk of tort reform, which he did include in Wednesday’s address. But, the president did say, “we are now closer to reform than we have ever been.”
“We want to help the whole country learning about the good things in Minnesota,” Obama said, praising the local Mayo Clinic for its innovative work. “That’ll help save everybody money.”