Last night, President Obama made an appeal to Congress—and the American public—that health care must be reformed, "I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last... Our collective failure to meet this challenge - year after year, decade after decade - has led us to a breaking point... The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action."

The Washington Post reports, "Obama prodded them to quickly enact comprehensive legislation that would impose strict new insurance protections, expand government health programs for the working poor and begin pilot projects aimed at reducing medical malpractice lawsuits... Casting himself squarely in the political center with direct appeals to the middle class, Obama laid out his case for a 10-year, $900 billion plan that would build on the current employer-based health system with new requirements on individuals and businesses to contribute to the costs of coverage. And on the controversial issue of a new government-run insurance option, he maintained his flexibility. 'If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen,' he said. 'My door is always open.'"

And the NY Times notes that Obama, who "signaled a more defiant tone, saying that he would not allow a misinformation campaign to flourish," saying, "I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out."

You can read the text of his speech here; pundits noted that Obama used blunt language and short sentences to get his points across. And while he said that the time for bickering was over, it was time for heckling—Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled, "You lie!" when Obama said that the health care plan would not cover illegal immigrants. Here's video after the jump:

The Times says that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel "immediately approached senior Republican lawmakers to encourage them to identify the heckler and urge him to quickly issue an apology." Wilson issued a statement, "This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the president’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility." Senator John McCain denounced the outburst on Larry King Live: