Two top US Senators told President Barack Obama on Monday that they would work together to present legislation overhauling US healthcare by June and formally launch the reforms in 2009.
Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus vowed in a letter to Obama to "act swiftly" and in concert.
"We are committed to working with you, and with our colleagues in Congress, to enact legislation to achieve these long-overdue reforms without delay," they wrote Obama, who has made overhauling US healthcare this year a top priority.
The senators said they would aim to produce mostly similar bills, which would reduce the time needed to produce a legislative package addressing what the US public considers a top domestic priority.
More than half of all Americans are covered by health insurance provided by employers, but it is not compulsory and nearly 46 million others have no coverage at all.
Providing insurance is a millstone for businesses and carves a hole in the budget of many Americans, while many others rely solely on emergency room care.
Baucus and Senator Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that their panel would hold the first of three roundtable discussions on healthcare reform proposals.