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President Obama pressed Congress today to "finish its work" and pass a healthcare reform bill that he can sign into law, adding that he has asked lawmakers to schedule a vote "in the next few weeks."
"The American people want to know if it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future," Obama said in a televised speech from the East Room of the White House March 3. "They are waiting for us to act. They are waiting for us to lead. And as long as I hold this office, I intend to provide that leadership. I don't know how this plays politically, but I know it's right."
Published reports say that Obama plans to pass healthcare reform through reconciliation, a measure which allows the Senate to pass a bill with just 51 votes, a simple majority.
Obama said "government bureaucrats and insurance company bureaucrats" should not have more control over America's healthcare. "I believe it's time to give the American people more control over their own health insurance," he said. "I don't believe we can afford to leave life-and-death decisions about health care to the discretion of insurance company executives alone. I believe that doctors and nurses like the ones in this room should be free to decide what's best for their patients."
Obama continued that his healthcare proposal "gives Americans more control over their health care by holding insurance companies more accountable. It builds on the current system where most Americans get their health insurance from their employer," adding that his plan "incorporates the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans - including some of the ideas that Republicans offered during the health care summit, like funding state grants on medical malpractice reform and curbing waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system. My proposal also gets rid of many of the provisions that had no place in health care reform--provisions that were more about winning individual votes in Congress than improving health care for all Americans."