One of the president’s key advisors says it’s important to enact health care reform "very, very quickly."
Melody Barnes, the White House Domestic Policy Advisor, is in Iowa today, but talking frequently with colleagues in D.C. to prep for President Obama’s news conference there tonight.
"Having worked in Washington, worked on ‘The Hill’ for 10-plus years, it’s very exciting," she says. "You recognize that this is the moment when everyone is engaging and you’re getting closer to getting something done and the faster we get something done, the faster we can see change and improvement for the American people."
According to Barnes, the president will point out tonight that health care reform has been debated in Washington for the past 40 years. Barnes dismisses the idea critics will be able to derail a bill and she hinted at what Obama’s core message will be tonight.
"Why it’s important to move at the pace that he’s articulated. Some have characterized this as, you know, I guess: ‘guns blazing,’ you know, ‘We’re moving too quickly’ — putting that in context," Barnes says. "…And why it’s important to do this with — I won’t say ‘with all deliberate speed,’ because that was slow — but why it’s important to do it very, very quickly."
Barnes spoke this morning with those involved in the Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies, a program run by former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack. The abortion issue has cropped up in the health care debate, and Barnes says there is neither a mandate that insurance plans cover abortions, nor a mandate that prohibits insurance plans from covering abortions.
"What the president has said is those decisions should go to medical experts for their decisionmaking process and he continues to believe that," Barnes says. "…I mean, at this point, we haven’t even seen legislative language. We are watching congress work through this issue and that’s where the president is right now."
Read more about what Barnes had to say on The Blog or click on the audio link below to listen to her roundtable discussion with five Iowa reporters.