Obama declares healthcare reform agenda

Healthcare reform is on the top of the White House list this week. President Barack Obama said he wants wide buy-in to whatever plan emerges. Experts say the plan will most likely involve a patchwork of compromises, according to Reuters.

The president is aware of the obstacles, but he believes there are three advantages on his side: the rising cost of private and public health insurance, the downward turn of the economy and widespread agreement that the U.S. system does not work.

"This time, the call for reform is coming from the bottom up and from all across the spectrum — from doctors, from nurses, from patients; from unions, from businesses; from hospitals, health care providers, community groups," Obama told the opening session.

Obama sees the healthcare solution as a way to repair the economy, create new jobs and reduce deficits. These are the ideas open for discussion (according to Reuters' media coverage on the issue):

  • Coverage for some or all of the 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance.
  • Reduce premiums for employers and the 160 million people who get health insurance through their jobs.
  • Cut the ballooning costs to state and federal governments of Medicare and Medicaid, the government healthcare programs for the elderly, which threaten to overwhelm budgets within the next 15 years.
  • Trim and coordinate the way Americans receive care to allow sharing of medical information while reducing unneeded tests and procedures, preventing mistakes, and enhancing health instead of focusing on disease.
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