Obama noted today that many of his predecessors, going back to Teddy Roosevelt, called for health care reform but most efforts failed because the parties involved could not agree on a way forward.
The president said that things are different today because the key players, including the AMA, are coming together to make changes in order to achieve reform.
"We know the moment is right for health care reform. We know this is an historic opportunity we've never seen before and may not see again. But we also know that there are those who will try and scuttle this opportunity no matter what -- who will use the same scare tactics and fear-mongering that's worked in the past," he said.
Obama recounted a story in which Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., gave him a magazine with a special report on "The Crisis in American Medicine" that addressed many of the key challenges that he is talking about today, except the article was dated October 1960.
"I know people are cynical we can do this. I know there will be disagreements about how to proceed in the days ahead. But I also know that we cannot let this moment pass us by," he said.
ABC News' John Hendren contributed to this report.