U.S. President Barack Obama is again pushing for passage of health-care
reform legislation, a day after delivering a major speech on the issue
to Congress and the American people. The president made his latest appeal to a group of
nurses here in Washington.
President Obama is repeating the message he sent in Wednesday's speech: It is time to stop arguing about health-care reform.
"But we have talked this issue to death, year after year, decade after decade," he said. "And the time for talk is winding down. The time for bickering has passed. We're not the first generation to take up this cause. But we can - and have to be - the last."
The president went before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night to give details of his $900-billion proposal, which could include a government-run insurance option to compete with private insurance companies.
Liberal Democrats are insisting on the so-called "public option". But Republicans are criticizing it as a government takeover of the health-care system.
Vice President Joe Biden says he expects health care reform legislation to be finished by late November.
Mr. Obama told the nurses group that their support is needed to help get health reform passed.
"We will bid farewell to the days when our health care system was a source of worry to families and a drag on our economy, and America will finally join the ranks of every other advanced nation by providing quality, affordable health insurance to all of its citizens," he said.
Later, the president met with his cabinet to further underscore the importance of moving forward on his health-care plan.
Afterward, he said he had accepted an apology from Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, who shouted, "You lie!" during Mr. Obama's address to Congress.
"We all make mistakes," said the president. "He apologized quickly and without equivocation. And I am appreciative of that."
But the president added that he wants a civil debate on health care, free of name-calling.
In the coming days, Mr. Obama will take his health reform campaign on the road. At least one trip is planned, to the north central state of Minnesota.