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A Debate on Health Care Reform

March 19, 2010

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President Obama made a last-minute push for his health care reform plan Friday in advance of Sunday’s planned vote in the House, telling a supportive audience at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia that “a century-long struggle” for reform is about to “culminate in a historic vote.”

The president, who appeared energetic and enthusiastic, linked passage of the health care bill to the passage of social security and civil rights legislation, arguing that the debate on the legislation is “about the character of our country.”

He cited past presidents who have supported reform, among them Republican Teddy Roosevelt, who he quoted as having backed “aggressive fighting” for expanded coverage.The legislation would eventually mean coverage for about 32 million people who are now uninsured, though many provisions expanding coverage do not kick in until 2014.

“I know this has been a difficult journey,” he said. “I know this will be a tough vote.” The president said that while he doesn’t know how pushing for reform will “play politically,” he does know that it’s the right thing to do.

Mr. Obama added that despite rhetoric suggesting the legislation represents radical change, the bill is ultimately about “common sense reform.” He said that if the bill does not pass, the insurance industry “will continue to run amok.”

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