July 15, 2009 / 3:08 PM / 10 years ago

Obama says Senate healthcare plan will lower costs

President Barack Obama speaks with the use of one teleprompter after the other fell and broke at the Urban and Metropolitan Policy Roundtable at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, July 13, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama welcomed the U.S. Senate health committee’s approval of a proposal on Wednesday to overhaul healthcare, saying it would ensure fair treatment for patients by insurance companies.

“(The committee) has produced a proposal that will finally lower health care costs, provide better care for patients, and ensure fair treatment of consumers by the insurance industry,” Obama said in a statement.

“No longer will insurance companies be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition. No longer will Americans have to worry about their health insurance if they lose their job, change their job, or open a new business,” he said.

Healthcare reform has many more hurdles to clear. The Senate panel is the first of five congressional committees to complete work on its version of a major overhaul for the industry, which comprises one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The legislation must be passed by the Senate and reconciled with a House of Representatives proposal before it goes to the White House.

Obama, for whom healthcare is a signature policy issue, plans to give a statement Wednesday from the White House about the progress that has been made so far.

Reporting by Jeff Mason

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