Obama: Health reform crucial to rebuilding economy

WASHINGTON Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:27pm EDT

President Obama delivers remarks about health care following his meeting with health care providers at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Reed

President Obama delivers remarks about health care following his meeting with health care providers at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, July 20, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Wednesday a healthcare overhaul was central to his economic recovery effort and vowed to push reforms through this year, as he scrambled to overcome doubts about the plan in Congress.

"If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit," Obama said in excerpts of prepared remarks for his opening statement at a prime-time news conference to be held later on Wednesday.

Obama was set to take his case to the American public for a broad healthcare revamp even as congressional leaders struggled to find common ground on the cost and scope of a proposal that the president has made his top legislative priority.

"As we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before. And health insurance reform is central to that effort," Obama said.

"I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade -- and I mean it," Obama added.

Obama, whose healthcare reform drive faces opposition from some of his fellow Democrats as well as many opposition Republicans, said the debate must not be "consumed in the game of politics."

"We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year," he said.

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