News / USA

Obama Calls for Compromise on Health Care

US President Barack Obama delivers the weekly address, 27 Feb 2010
US President Barack Obama delivers the weekly address, 27 Feb 2010
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Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is willing to compromise with opposition Republicans on health-care reform legislation.  But, there are signs that Democrats may be ready to move ahead on the issue, with or without Republican agreement.

President Obama says he wants to compromise on overhauling the U.S. health care system if Republicans are serious about it, but that reform must go forward.

The president is discussing the centerpiece of his domestic agenda in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, two days after he hosted a day-long meeting on the issue with lawmakers from both parties.

"I said at the end of Thursday's summit that I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done. But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge," he said.  

Democrats in Congress may be preparing to undertake the difficult process of pushing through their 10-year, $1 trillion health care bill with no Republican support.  Republicans insist that the legislation be scrapped and lawmakers start over.  

Mr. Obama says 30 million people who would receive health insurance coverage through the Democratic plan cannot wait. "It is time for us to come together.  It is time for us to act.  It is time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities to the American people and to future generations.  So let's get this done," he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has said Mr. Obama plans to announce an updated health reform proposal in the coming week, probably on Wednesday.  Gibbs suggested it would include concepts proposed by Republicans at Thursday's summit.

In the Republican Party address, Senator Tom Coburn of the Central state of Oklahoma says Democrats should not move ahead alone.  Coburn describes the Democrats' plans as procedural tricks and back-room deals.

"If the president and the leaders in Congress are serious about finding common ground they should continue this debate, not cut it off by rushing through a partisan bill the American people have already rejected," he said.

Reports say Coburn, who is a medical doctor, was contacted by the White House after he attended Thursday's meeting and asked about his suggestions for eliminating fraud and waste from medical insurance.

Even if his proposals are included, Coburn says he still cannot support the Democratic plan. "At its core, their plan continues a government-centered approach that has made health care more expensive.  Federal and state governments already control 60 percent of health care.  If more government spending and control was the answer we could have fixed health care long ago," he said.

The United States is the only major industrialized nation without universal health care. 

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