President Set To Address Congress On Health Care


(CBS) - Lawmakers returned to capitol hill Tuesday, bruised after a month of brutal town hall meetings on health care reform.

"At the end of the day, I wanna be able to say to my constituents we solved this problem, with or without Republican support." Rep. Robert Andrews, D-New Jersey, said.

President Obama will address Congress and the American people Wednesday night in a speech that could make or break his signature issue. Tuesday afternoon he met with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"I have every belief that when he finishes his speech tomorrow (Wednesday) the American people will be able to put aside some of the ridiculous falsehoods that have been perpetrated," Reid said.

No one denies the nation’s health care system needs fixing, but there’s little agreement about how to do it. Having the federal government offer health insurance, the so-called “public option,” is at the center of the debate.

At least one Democrat who supported it before now says he will not vote for a plan that includes a public option. Republicans are not surprised.

"I don’t think a public option is going to be part of the final package," Sen.
Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, said. "I think Americans, their voices have been heard.”

Still, the President insists a public option is the best way to improve quality and bring down costs.

Both Republicans and Democrats have offered up alternatives to the public option. The latest idea is to slap a fee on insurance companies that would help pay for coverage for 50 million uninsured Americans.

The idea, from a bipartisan group of six finance committee senators, could be the President’s last, best hope of passing a bill by the end of the year.

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