President Barack Obama said politicians who want to repeal this year’s health care overhaul should have to explain to people who need insurance that they won’t be able to buy it.

“I want them to look you in the eye and say sorry,” he said, “you can’t buy health insurance.”

“I don’t think that’s what this country stands for,” the president said at a backyard gathering today in Falls Church, Va.

Stepping up his defense of legislation most Americans say they dislike, the president highlighted provisions beginning to take effect, including new regulations for insurance companies, requirements to let young adults stay on their parents’ plans and a bar on coverage being denied to children with pre-existing conditions.

Insurance companies “are not going to be able to drop you arbitrarily,” Obama said. “You’re going to be able to choose your doctor and not have to go through some network in an emergency situation.”

“All these things are designed not to have government more involved in health care, they’re designed to make sure you have basic protections in your interactions with your insurance company, that you’re getting what you paid for,” the president said.

Rising health care costs are the largest factor in the increasing federal deficit, he said.