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Obama to Test a New Message in Health Care Push

Barack Obama
AP
Barack Obama

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama, citing new government data showing that nearly half of all Americans live without health insurance in a 10-year period, says the situation will only worsen without the overhaul legislation he wants Congress to send him.

Obama was to test his message - that losing health insurance can happen to anyone - at a rally Saturday in Minneapolis.

A new Treasury Department analysis found that 48 percent of all Americans under age 65 go without health coverage at some point in a 10-year period. The data came from a study that tracked the insurance status of a sample of Americans from 1997-2006.

The report also found that more than half, or 57 percent, of people under age 21 will find themselves without insurance at some point during a span of 10 years and that more than one-third of Americans will be without coverage for a year or more.

"I refuse to allow that future to happen," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet message. "In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they'll go without health insurance -- not for one year, not for one month, not for one day.

"And once I sign my health reform plan into law, they won't," he added.

In the Republican address, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Obama has paid lip service to bipartisanship, rejected ideas that would bring the parties together around overhauling the system and ignored the American people's wishes. He criticized the cost and its long-term effect on the budget deficit, saying one of the House bills works out to $2.4 trillion over 10 years, beginning in 2013.

Obama puts the cost of his plan at $900 billion over the period.

"President Obama should work with Republicans on a bottom-up solution that the American people can support," Cornyn said.

The Minneapolis rally set for the Target Center is the latest move in the "full-court press" Obama promised as he seeks to overhaul a costly health care system he says will bankrupt the country and leave millions more people without needed coverage if left unchanged.

He followed Wednesday night's nationally televised health care speech with a day of events at the White House, including more remarks on health care, a Cabinet meeting dominated by the topic and a meeting with moderate Senate Democrats.

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On Friday, he sat down with CBS' "60 Minutes" for an interview to be broadcast Sunday.

He continues the health care focus next week, speaking Tuesday in Pittsburgh at the AFL-CIO convention, where the need for health care overhaul will be an overriding theme, and holding another rally Thursday in College Park, Md., a Washington suburb.

In his televised speech to the nation, Obama spelled out what he'd like to see in the health overhaul bill he wants: coverage expanded to most of the nearly 50 million uninsured, new requirements for people to get insurance, new prohibitions against insurance company practices like denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition and creation of a new marketplace, or exchange, where consumers could shop for coverage.