Obama To Student Audience: Health Reform Is 'Defining Struggle Of This Generation'

The Associated Press: "Calling health insurance reform a 'defining struggle of this generation,' President Barack Obama told thousands of college students Thursday that Congress must resist scare tactics and false accusations to do a makeover." He was speaking at the University of Maryland in College Park. He acknowledges the difficulties involved, but said "an 'unprecedented coalition' of hospitals, doctors, nurses and drug makers support the effort. Some of the most enthusiastic backers, he told loudly cheering students ... 'are the very medical professionals who have firsthand knowledge' of how badly the current system operates." During the speech, he "again called for a public insurance option" but "stopped short of insisting" on its inclusion in reforms. He also said "eliminating 'waste and abuse' in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will help the government find money to cover most of the Americans now without insurance." The Maryland rally "was part of a campaign-style blitz to keep the pressure on Congress. [Obama's] also planning to appear on five Sunday morning talk shows and visit David Letterman's late-night show Monday on CBS (Babington, 9/17).

The Washington Post: "With his health-care overhaul slowly moving through Congress absent Republican support, President Obama turned to a solidly young, liberal audience on Thursday morning, rallying students at the University of Maryland." He tailored his speech "to the student crowd, hoping to arm young people -- who are among the least likely to purchase health insurance but could form an important core of a new health-care system -- with new facts and enthusiasm in the debate." Although the Maryland crowd was "overwhelmingly friendly," Obama's brief mention of the plan advanced yesterday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus "drew boos from the audience." Outside the building, "a smattering of people made their case against the Obama plan" (Kornblut and Greenwall, 9/17).

CBS's Political Hotsheet: The president told the University of Maryland audience "that students would not just shoulder the cost of reform but also benefit from it. The one in three young adults who do not have health insurance 'live one accident or one illness away from bankruptcy,' he said. ... Under his reforms, Mr. Obama said, children will be able to stay insured through their parents’ coverage until they are 26 years old. Another proposal under consideration, he said, is to allow people under 25 to buy low-cost insurance" (Stephanie Condon, 9/17).

The Baltimore Sun: "Shortly before he spoke, the administration said it will soon begin a demonstration project that would pay states up to $3 million over three years to test ways of reducing 'frivolous lawsuits' for medical malpractice and lowering the liability premiums paid by doctors" (West, 9/17).

Read a transcript of the speech.

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.