By Kim Hart - 02/27/10 11:00 AM EST
President Barack Obama on Saturday once again called for both parties to resolve their differences in the healthcare debate before the rapidly narrowing window for reform closes shut.
"I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on healthcare if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done," Obama said in his weekly radio address. "But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge. The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act."
At the summit, the president and other Democrats rejected Republicans' push to scrap the legislation and start over. Making it clear that he is willing to move forward with or without GOP support, Obama suggested he'd favor using budget reconciliation rules in the Senate that would allow the bill to move through the chamber with a simple majority vote.
On Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama will announce a "path forward" on healthcare reform in the coming week, but declined to say whether the president would endorse the use of the controversial reconciliation rules.
Despite taking a hard line against Republican resistance to the current healthcare proposal, Obama on Saturday pointed out that both parties came together last week to pass a jobs bill.
"We need that same spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship when it comes to finally passing reform that will bring down the cost of healthcare and give Americans more control over their insurance," he said. "On Thursday, we brought both parties together for a frank and productive discussion about the issue. In that discussion, we heard many areas of agreement...And I heard some ideas from our Republican friends that I believe are very worthy of consideration."
Obama also brought up the differences, including whether insurance companies should have to justify decisions to deny coverage, how to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, and whether small businesses should get tax credits for providing insurance.
"Some of these disagreements we may be able to resolve. Some we may not. And no final bill will include everything that everyone wants. That's what compromise is," he said.
Pointing to the Olympics, he congratulated American medal winners and their ability to bring the nation together over the past two weeks.
Saying he realizes the difficulties in finding unity for the nation's larger challenges, Obama said "we need to move past the bickering and the game-playing that holds us back and blocks progress for the American people."
"If we want to compete on the world stage as well as we've competed in the world's games, we need to find common ground," he said.
"It's time for us to come together. It is time for us to act. It is time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and to future generations," he said. "So let's get this done."