March 5th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama calls for overhaul of U.S. health care system

President Obama delivers opening remarks Thursday for a summit to overhaul health care.

President Obama delivers opening remarks Thursday for a summit to overhaul health care.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama on Thursday called for a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. health care system, warning that soaring medical costs present "one of the greatest threats not just to the well-being of our families ... but to the very foundation of our economy."

Watch: Obama opens health care summit

Obama made his remarks while addressing a group of lawmakers, doctors, hospital officials and advocates at a White House summit on health care reform - one of the president's top domestic priorities.

"We cannot delay this discussion any longer," Obama said. "Health care reform is no longer just a moral imperative, it is a fiscal imperative. If we want to create jobs, rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we must address the crushing cost of health care this year."

Among other things, Obama is seeking to set aside $634 billion in a health-care reserve fund over the next 10 years to help move the country closer to the goal of universal coverage. He also would require senior citizens making more than $170,000 annually to pay a greater share of their prescription drug costs under Medicare.

"This isn't a luxury; this is a necessity," Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told CNN's "American Morning" on Thursday, explaining that health care reform is a must for the U.S. to get its "economic ship steady."

Updated 2 p.m.

Full story

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. No Hillary = No Obama

    Duh! Didn't Hillary call for the same a decade ago? Mr. Originality, he's not.

    March 5, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. Debra, NY

    Until comprehensive healthcare is guaranteed to every citizen of this country we cannot hope to effectively compete in this global era, PERIOD!
    Anyone who does not see how our businesses, small businesses and individual citizens are weighed down by this 800 pound gorilla is simply not facing up to reality.
    America needs to get with the 21st century...it's gonna be hard, it'll take a long time to get the kinks out, and it will never be perfect...nothing is.
    But having experienced a family member with cancer, and $800,000.00 worth of medical bills...it becomes very apparent that the system that so many people say works just fine...ain't working at all.
    When a person has to sweat out the fact that if they lose their job, they lose their medical coverage...well that is just plainly uacceptable...
    Get real people...it has nothing to do with socialism and everything to do with common sense and priorities.

    March 5, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  3. southerncousin

    One more great dip in to the wallets of the few that are not recipients of the Obama welfare state already.

    March 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. groidlover

    smartest groid i know and i know 2.

    March 5, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. amen what mess our health system is

    it needs an overhaul

    March 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  6. JJ

    Another "plan" another "drop" in the market. Anyone see a pattern here.....

    March 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  7. cheryl brooks from cali

    I need some real health care... I haven't seen the dentist ??????? My teeth are all falling out.... I don't know if I have some dibilitating illness cause I haven't seen the doctor for a physical??????? Please Mr. President we need a lot of overhauling in this area.

    March 5, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. Jennifer

    I love our President.

    March 5, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. scott

    As a business owner we are paying 800.00 per month to Workmans comp insurance for 2 employees and we haven't had a claim in over 10 years. Wouldn't it be better if the money wasted on Workmans comp was spent on Health insurance coverage for our employees? We can't provide both, so it goes to the required Workmans comp.

    March 5, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    I have lupus (an incurable, life threatening autoimmune disorder) and if I didn't have a job with health insurance, it is a death sentence in this nation. I think that I will make citizens arrest for those in Congress who do not support or vote for national health insurance for every single member (who force me to pay for their collective health benefits with my taxes) and charge them with reckless endangerment of lives, negligent homicide, and throw in embezzelment.

    Members of Congress and any other elected officials health insurance benefits are paid for with tax payers' money and it is well past time for these ingrates to reciprocate.

    March 5, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. paulernestshow

    The president should wait a while until we can see some sunshine break through this financial storm we are currently riding. As it stands now, no one can predict the cost of restoring our economy and the risk he takes is not having the funds to foot such gigantic venture. The idea is very good but my humble opinion, is that the timing may be a little too soon. He is still my president but can we afford it now. He has already given tax cuts and with less and less people and companies paying taxes, simply because they cannot afford them, there is bound to be budgetary shortfalls in the next year and so.

    March 5, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Muffet

    This process will reveal what the congress is really made of. I wish them and President Obama much success on this (and other matters).

    March 5, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. M.A.D Agent

    Mike in TX says ask a Canadian about our problem. Living in Canada i can testify that in no way would tried my health care system for what u guys in the states have. No Canadian has ever gone backtupt because medical bills, it's unheard of here. I was blows away the pack of lies ur politians feed you about universal health care in canada. I pick whatever doctor I want, get my drugs reimbursed, and dont pay for medical treatment so I dunno which Canada Mike is talking about. My friend the other a few weeks ago discovered the lump on his temple was skin cancer and within a week he got an opperation to remove it and skin graph. Guess how much it cost him...$0. Wake up America your being lied to, health care is not a privilage, its a human right

    March 6, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. melinda vasquez

    My dad is 64 and worked for a company that did not offer health care because of the cost. So when my dad started to get leisions, he ignored them. I threatened to call 911 if he didn't go with me to the ER. He was diagnosed with diabetes, PAD and a blockage of the heart. Now he has medicare A a,d must pay 1100/mo for his care before ins kicks in. He brings home 1700/mo. Medicare hasn't done a cost of living adjustment since 1984!

    March 6, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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