[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/03/05/health.care.summit/art.obama.health.01.cnn.jpg caption="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."
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.