Obama to reject repeal, embrace tort reform

Speaking in the same chamber that rebuked the healthcare reform law a week earlier, President Obama in the State of the Union address will reject Republican repeal efforts but embrace the GOP’s call for medical malpractice reform.

In a speech centering on moving forward, Obama will say he is “eager” to discuss ways to improve the reform law, but reject Republican plans to scrap the healthcare overhaul enacted less than a year ago.

“As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage” Obama will say, according to official remarks sent to reporters an hour before the speech. “So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.”

Saying “anything can be improved,” Obama will signal a willingness to work with Republicans to improve the reform, and he will even back medical liability reform, a highly partisan issue that was left out of the sweeping reform bill. Republicans this week unveiled a comprehensive tort reform bill, which Democrats have historically opposed.

Citing the bipartisan Fiscal Commission, which identified healthcare spending as the biggest threat to the nation’s deficit, Obama says lawmakers must find ways to further reduce healthcare costs. The reform law, Obama says, will help tackle costs in programs like Medicare and Medicaid.