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Obama Presses Reluctant Lawmakers on Health Care Reform

President Barack Obama is continuing to make reforming the U.S. health care system a top priority, despite indications from some lawmakers that they are in no hurry to approve major changes.

The president holds a prime-time news conference Wednesday evening to again promote his plan for quickly bringing affordable health insurance to all Americans.

Mr. Obama has said he wants both houses of Congress to approve legislation before their August recess, but lawmakers still have concerns about the cost and scope of the reform package. Some say the president's timetable is needlessly rushing the creation of complicated legislation.

Political analysts say Mr. Obama's success in persuading Congress to pass a reform package will be a critical early test of his presidency.

Reforming the health care system in the United States has been a major political issue for years, especially because the already high cost of American health care has continued to increase.

Reform proponents say the situation has left millions of Americans uninsured, bankrupted others and burdened those businesses that provide health insurance for their employees.

The plan Mr. Obama and many congressional Democrats support includes a government-run health insurance option to compete with private insurers, a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, and a mandate for employers to provide it. The president says the estimated $1 trillion plan can be paid for without increasing the federal budget deficit.

Many minority Republicans agree that health care costs are too high, but they say the proposed changes will cost far more than President Obama and Democrats estimate. Republicans also oppose a proposed surtax on the wealthy to help pay for the plan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.