Obama warns against health delay

Friday, July 17, 2009


US President Barack Obama has called on Congress not to delay the passage of healthcare reform.
"Now is not the time to slow down" reform efforts, he insisted.
His call comes after a group of Senate moderates asked for more time to consider reform proposals, in a bid to achieve a bipartisan consensus.
Mr Obama has made it his priority to overhaul the US healthcare system, and expand coverage to the 47 million Americans without health insurance.
Unprecedented consensus
A number of different reform proposals are currently being published by various congressional committees.
On Wednesday, the Senate health committee became the first congressional panel to vote to approve a healthcare reform bill.
The Senate Finance Committee is also working on a bill, and three House of Representatives committees have published a joint proposal.
Eventually, if lawmakers can agree, a bill combining elements of all of the proposals will be put to a vote in both chambers and be sent to Mr Obama for approval.
HEALTHCARE IN THE US
46 million uninsured, 25 million under-insured
Healthcare costs represent 16% of GDP, almost twice OECD average
Reform plans would require all Americans to get insurance
Some propose public insurance option to compete with private insurers
"In the past few weeks we have forged a level of consensus [on healthcare reform] never before seen in this country," Mr Obama said in a statement at the White House.
And he expressed confidence that healthcare reform would be achieved by the end of the year.
"We are going to get this done. We will reform health care. it will happen this year. I'm absolutely convinced of that."
But Mr Obama's remarks came after a group of six senators - three Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent - published a letter in which they spoke out against "timelines which prevent us from achieving the best result."
"We believe that taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical," wrote senators Ben Nelson, Ron Wyden, Mary Landrieu, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman.
All of the plans under consideration would require Americans to take out insurance, and would bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
The House committees' joint bill and the Senate health committee bills would also create a new, publicly run health plan, which they hope would compete with private insurers and drive down prices.
The Senate finance committee bill is not expected to include a "public option", but would instead set up non-profit medical co-operatives to compete with private insurers.

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