Tue, March 03, 2009
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Obama embarks on health reform

2009-03-03 05:55:05 GMT2009-03-03 13:55:05 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

INTRO: Leading that effort will be Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius-- who was nominated by President Obama to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

MOREINFO:

SCRIPT:

MORE INFO: President Obama -- in his budget outline unveiled last week-- has set aside more than $600 billion --paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy -- to bring about those reforms. Reforms that most industrialized nations have already undertaken.

Jon Decker reports.

STORY:

With American healthcare costs rising exponentially over the past decade, President Barack Obama is embarking on an ambitious health reform effort--aimed at expanding healthcare to 46 million uninsured Americans.

Leading that effort will be Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius-- who was nominated by President Obama on Monday to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying (English):

"If we are going to help families, save businesses and improve the long-term economic health of our nation, we must realize that fixing what is wrong with our healthcare system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative."

Sebelius, like Obama, believes that inefficiencies in the healthcare system are hurting the U.S. economy.

SOUNDBITE: Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius saying (English):

"We can't fix the economy without fixing healthcare. The work won't be easy, but bringing about real change rarely is."

There is wide agreement the U.S. healthcare system needs change. And President Obama -- in his budget outline unveiled last week-- has set aside more than $600 billion --paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy -- to bring about those reforms -- reforms that most industrialized nations have already undertaken.

The Brookings Institution's Darrell West.

SOUNDBITE: Darrell West, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, saying (English):

"They are certainly applauding the effort to make needed reforms here. I think in a lot of respects the United States has been out of step with the rest of the world in terms of how health care is being treated. What Obama is proposing I think will push the United States much further down the road that many other countries have already have walked."

Healthcare will continue to be a focus for the White House when it hosts a healthcare summit on Thursday, bringing together health insurers, members of Congress and lobbyists for the drug industry and employers -- groups that all have a major stake in the remaking of the US health system..

Jon Decker, Reuters.

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