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Obama: Health Care Remains A Year One Priority

For those still doubting that major health care reform can proceed this year, even without Tom Daschle and even with a growing federal deficit, here is what President Obama said in Fort Meyers, Florida, today:

My hope is, over the course of the year, I’m going to be able to work with Congress to move forward a bill that gets us on track to every single person in America being able to get affordable, decent health care coverage.

Phrasing is obviously important. Making sure every American can get affordable, decent coverage isn't quite the same thing as making sure every American (or almost every American) actually has affordable, decent coverage. And it's one thing to "work with Congress to move forward a bill," quite another to pass a bill.

Watch closely in the next few weeks, starting with the Obama budget, to see where exactly the administration plans to position itself on these questions.

Still, the quote is yet more evidence that the administration intends to push ahead with large-scale reforms of health care this year--and that the reforms will include significant efforts to expand health insurance coverage. That is good news.

--Jonathan Cohn