September 10 2009, 10:32 AM
U.S. Senator Mark Udall is expected to sit down with President Barack Obama today to talk about health care reform, telling the Fort Collins Coloradoan that he will advocate for a rural physicians program backed by the University of Colorado. But it's a good bet that Obama will do a lot of the talking in the wake of his big speech to Congress last night, which included a public option that would leave no American without coverage. Obama needs lawmakers like Udall (pictured)---and other moderate local Dems such as Senator Michael Bennet and Congresswoman Betsy Markey---in order to pass reform. As of last night, Markey shied away from rubber-stamping the president's plans. In the rare joint session of Congress, Obama decried the "scare tactics" of opponents, offering an impassioned and detailed outline of what we can expect (via The New York Times). He dismissed the idea of so-called "death panels" as a "lie." Later, in an incident that disrupted the expected protocol of a presidential speech, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson called Obama a "liar" when the president pointed out that undocumented immigrants would not be covered using government money. The outburst was a momentary distraction, which Obama followed by saying that existing care largely would remain intact, while care would be extended to those who cannot afford it. Moreover, he said, there would be consumer protections to prevent private insurers from boosting profits by dropping those who are already ill. Even before Obama addressed lawmakers, Congressman Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, launched an attack: "Americans don't need another speech from the president on health care, they need a different plan" (via the Denver Business Journal). The Colorado Independent provides a thorough roundup of local politicians' reactions to the speech.