President Barack Obama urged Congress Saturday to move ahead on health care reform, arguing that any change in the current system should lower the cost of services, improve their quality and protect consumer choice.
"This week, I conveyed to Congress my belief that any health care reform must be built around fundamental reforms that lower costs, improve quality and coverage, and also protect consumer choice," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
Advertisement"That means if you like the plan you have, you can keep it," he explained. "If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you'll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold."
During his election campaign last year, Obama campaigned hard on universal healthcare coverage, vowing to endow all Americans with health insurance, including those 46 million Americans who remain uninsured.
But moves to reform healthcare, an often polarizing issue, have bogged down during virtually every administration since the 1940s and 1950s.
Officials hope to ensure that Obama's healthcare plan does not suffer the same fate as the massive healthcare reform bid of former Democratic president Bill Clinton, which foundered in Congress and damaged his political prestige.
Meanwhile, Congress is set to begin marathon talks to hammer out legislation overhauling the healthcare system before a month-long recess that begins on August 3.
In his address, Obama said that the US health care system was broke and fixing it was "no longer a luxury" but "a necessity we cannot postpone any longer."
He noted that the time to act was now.
"And I am absolutely convinced that if we keep working together and living up to our mutual responsibilities; if we place the American people's interests above the special interests; we will seize this historic opportunity to finally fix what ails our broken health care system, and strengthen our economy and our country now and for decades to come," the president pointed out.
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