WASHINGTON - Counting exploding healthcare costs among the greatest threats to the U.S. economy, President Obama opened a healthcare summit at the White House Thursday.
"We are here today to discuss one of the greatest threats not just to the well-being of our families and the prosperity of our businesses, but to the very foundation of our economy -- and that is the exploding cost of health care in America today," Obama said before participants went to break-out sessions to discuss ideas on how to lower healthcare costs and increase coverage.
Problems in the U.S. healthcare system "are a direct consequences of actions we failed to take yesterday," Obama told the estimated 150 participants.
Since President Theodore Roosevelt called for reform nearly 100 years ago, "we have tried and fallen short, stalled time and again by failures of will, or Washington politics, or industry lobbying," he said.
To those who say healthcare reform should wait until the economic crisis subsides, Obama said participants in last week's fiscal responsibility summit agreed "that the greatest threat to America's fiscal health is not Social Security ... and it is not the investments we've made to rescue our economy ... it is the skyrocketing cost of healthcare. It's not even close."
Speaking of the failed attempt to bring about healthcare reform during the Clinton administration, Obama said, "This time, the call for reform is coming from the bottom up, from all across the spectrum ... ."
Obama, stressing the goal was to pass healthcare reform by the end of the year, said, "I am confident that if we come together, and work together, we will finally achieve what generations of Americans have fought for and fulfill the promise of healthcare in our time."
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