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Obama: Health Care Reform Essential for Rebuilding US Economy

U.S. President Barack Obama says progress is being made toward passing legislation to reform the way Americans pay for health care. The president is also using his weekly address to debunk what he calls "outlandish rumors" about his plan.

President Obama says health insurance reform is critical to the nation's long-term economic strength. And he is praising four committees in Congress for agreeing on what he calls "a difficult and complex challenge." "There are still details to be hammered out. There are still differences to be reconciled. But we are moving toward a broad consensus on reform," he said.

Mr. Obama says opponents of his health reform plan have been spreading false information about what the proposal will and will not do. "And let me start by dispelling the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, or cut Medicaid (the government program to help senior citizens pay for health care), or bring about a government takeover of health care. That is simply not true," he said.

In the Republican response, Bob McDonnell, a candidate for governor of the state of Virginia, says his party also wants to fix health insurance. But he says it should be done without excessive government intervention. "We are committed to helping more Americans to get the health care coverage they need, not through nationalizing the system with a costly government-run plan, but rather by supporting free-market incentives to help small business owners to make coverage more accessible and affordable," he said.

The Labor Department announced on Friday that the nation's unemployment dipped from 9.5 percent in June to 9.4 percent in July. Mr. Obama mentions the better-than-expected data in his address, and says reforming health care is a pillar for future growth and prosperity.

McDonnell says unemployment remains high, and the solution is less government regulation, not more. "As Republicans, we believe you create those new jobs by keeping taxes and regulation low, and litigation at a minimum. Americans succeed when government puts in place positive policies that encourage more freedom and more opportunity," he said.

President Obama leaves Sunday for Guadalajara, Mexico, where he will meet with the Canadian and Mexican leaders in a two-day North American summit.