COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — 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.
The fight will be difficult, Obama said, but an "unprecedented coalition" of hospitals, doctors, nurses and drug makers support the effort. Some of the most enthusiastic backers, he told loudly cheering students at the University of Maryland, "are the very medical professionals who have firsthand knowledge" of how badly the current system operates.
"When I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick," the president said.
Obama again called for a public insurance option, which most congressional Republicans, and some Democrats, oppose. It would not amount to "a government takeover of health care," he said. Obama stopped short of insisting on such a plan.
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, he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., has introduced a bill that would rein in spiraling medical costs and require nearly everyone to carry health insurance. A vote in his committee could occur as early as next week, but many hurdles remain in both the House and Senate.