Obama is Confident Congress Will Back His Healthcare Reform

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , September 14, 2009

Given the discussions—the pros and the cons—in both parties following President Obama's healthcare reform speech before Congress last week, he does not appear to be wavering from his vision that the votes for passage of reform legislation are there.

On Sunday night, appearing on the television show "60 Minutes," he said in an interview that he believes that "we will have enough votes to pass not just any healthcare bill, but a good healthcare bill that helps the American people, reduces costs... over the long term [and] controls our deficit. I'm confident that we've got that."

He admitted that he was not getting the collaboration he initially expected from congressional Republicans, but "frankly, I haven't gotten the kind of cooperation I'd like from Republicans generally on a whole range of issues," he said. "I think there're some who see this as a replay of 1993 1994. You know, young president comes in, proposes healthcare. It crashes and burns and then the Republicans use that to win back the House in the subsequent election."

Overall, the Democrats and Congress "are not going to get a better opportunity to solve our healthcare issues than we have right now. And that's why I'm confident that in the end we're going to get this done," he said.

In terms of the Democrats, he said that he thinks "there is a unity about wanting to get this done, and there's 98% agreement [but] there are some areas where there are some differences."

One of the biggest differences remains the public insurance option. Senior White House adviser David Axelrod, speaking earlier on Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, said President Obama is "not willing to accept" that the public option "is not going to be in the final package" of healthcare legislation.

Axelrod said that Obama "continues to believe it's a good idea" and continues "to advocate it." Overall, he added, he's "not willing to accept that it's not going to be in the final package."

Axelrod said the president "believes that it will add an element of competition where there is none in some places in this country where there's a monopolistic situation with insurance companies."

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