Top advisers say President Obama is poised to draw some lines in the sand over the size and shape of legislation to remake the nation's health-care system. Previously the President has not taken firm positions on specific elements of a broad health-care bill. That could change Wednesday evening when Obama addresses the nation on health care reform.
"People will leave today's speech knowing where he stands," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "If it takes doing whatever to get health care done, the President is ready, willing and able to go do that."
Administration officials continued to hold out hope that bipartisan talks in the Senate may provide a road map for the direction the President will take. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., set a deadline of Tuesday for the "Gang of Six" to move on a bill. Baucus intends to propose a bill based on the Finance Committee's work over the past two months. That work focuses on consumer-owned insurance cooperatives and would cost about 10% less than other bills that have already passed committee.
American Farm Bureau Federation Health Policy Specialist Pat Wolff says Congress is certainly not starting from where it left off at the end of July, as August produced record turnouts at Town Hall meetings with Americans telling their lawmakers what they think about health care.
How Obama's proposal treats rural America will be a key point of interest during Wednesday's address Wolff says and Farm Bureau will be watching to see if farmers and ranchers, small rural businesses and others that have to buy their own insurance are helped or hurt by any plan that comes together in the days ahead.
"All of this talk is geared at creating more options for the self employed people," Wolff said. "But what makes it really scary is that nobody knows exactly how things will turn out.
But Wolff says so far conservative rural Democrats have had a huge impact on the debate, holding up a House bill so that the voice of rural America could be heard over the August break.