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With his health-care overhaul slowly moving through Congress absent Republican support, President Obama turned to a solidly young, liberal audience on Thursday morning, rallying students at the University of Maryland to help him face the “defining struggle of this generation.”

“When you’re young, I know this isn’t always an issue that you have at the top of your mind. You think you’re invincible. That’s how I thought,” Obama said at the university’s Comcast Center.

Obama tailored his remarks to the student crowd, hoping to arm young people — who are among the least likely to purchase health insurance but could form an important core of a new health-care system — with new facts and enthusiasm in the debate. Obama declared that young people would be able to stay on their parents’ insurance longer — until age 26.

“I may not be the first president to take on health-care reform, but I’m determined to be the last,” he said. “The good news is, we are now closer to reform than we have ever been,” he said, estimating that there is about 80 percent agreement in the House and Senate. His brief mention of the plan put forward Wednesday by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — one of the few comments the White House has made on that proposal — drew boos from the audience.

And he highlighted his administration’s experiment with alternatives to medical malpractice lawsuits. The White House announced Thursday that it would provide $25 million in demonstration grants for such efforts. The issue is dear to many Republicans, and, if it were included in health-care overhaul, could help win some support from GOP lawmakers.

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