Obama stumps for healthcare reform

President Obama visits Philadelphia and St. Louis this week to try bolster public approval of health care reform.

Charles Dharapak/AP
President Obama was greeted by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (c.) and, from left: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Rep. Alyson Schwartz, Commander David Foster, and Sen. Arlen Specter (D) of Pennsylvania, upon his arrival at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Willow Grove, Pa., on Monday.

President Obama is pumping up the volume on his appeals for public support of US healthcare reform.

On Monday he will try to persuade voters to back his healthcare plan with a speech at Arcadia University in Philadelphia. On Wednesday he'll give a similar address in St. Louis.

"How much higher do premiums have to rise until we do something about it? How many more Americans have to lose their health insurance? When is the right time for health insurance reform," Mr. Obama will ask Monday in Philadelphia, according to excerpts from his prepared remarks released by the White House.

The administration knows that the fate of healthcare reform is hanging in the balance.

Right now, their strategy calls for the House to approve the health bill that has already passed the Senate. To make the legislation more palatable to wavering House Democrats, the Senate Democratic leadership would promise to move a bill of fixes to their original legislation.

Those fixes would have to be approved under Senate rules that allow budget-related items to be passed with only a simple majority of 51 votes.

The White House would like final congressional action to take place by March 18, when Obama is scheduled to leave on a trip to Indonesia and Australia.

The president faces an uphill battle in winning general public approval of his administration's approach. Pollster.com's trend line on the issue, which crunches together many different polls, shows about 51 percent of respondents opposed to the healthcare plan, and 42 percent in favor.

Those numbers have stayed fairly steady for the last five months.

One bit of good news for Obama may lie in the trust he retains on the issue. A new Gallup survey shows that 49 percent of respondents had confidence in Obama's recommendations on healthcare. The comparable rating for Congressional Democrats was 37 percent approval, and for Congressional Republicans it was 32 percent.

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