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Obama: Health Care Industry To Cut Costs

U.S. President Barack Obama has won a big victory in his battle to reform the American health care system. Some former opponents of reform are now offering their support.

The health care industry says it wants to join the reform effort.

After meeting with industry representatives at the White House, Mr. Obama said they have promised to limit health care costs.

"These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment," said President Obama.

The president says they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percent each year over the next decade. He says that amounts to a savings of more than $2 trillion.

If those limits are realized, they would benefit not just consumers, but also the federal government - which subsidizes health care for the elderly and the poor (through the Medicare and Medicaid programs).

President Obama says the industry pledge is an important first step in his effort to reform the health care system. In his brief remarks at the White House, he said the nation can no longer wait.

"What has brought us all together today is the recognition that we cannot continue down the same dangerous road we have been traveling for so many years, that costs are out of control, and that reform is not a luxury that can be postponed, but a necessity that cannot wait," said Mr. Obama.

The pledge from the health care industry marks a shift from the stand taken by many providers and insurers in 1993, when they blocked a reform effort launched by then President Bill Clinton.

President Obama is urging Congress to pass a reform bill by the end of the year, and by showing a willingness to trim costs analysts say the industry is securing a place for itself at the bargaining table.