Obama Hopes to Recharge Health Reform with Public Meeting

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , February 8, 2010

President Obama announced Sunday that he will meet with congressional Republicans and Democrats on Feb. 25 to discuss ways to move forward with healthcare reform this year.

Speaking with CBS anchor, Katie Couric, in a pre-Super Bowl interview, he said he wants to "put their ideas on the table" during a half-day meeting that will focus on the stalled healthcare legislation.

The goal will be to "go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward," Obama said. The session is expected to be televised.

Prior to the interview, Obama reaffirmed that he was seeking to get some type of healthcare reform through this year. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraising reception in Washington last week, he said, "We've got to move forward on a vote. But as I said at the State of the Union, I think we should be very deliberate, take our time."

The jobs package going through Congress is the "most urgent right now in the minds of Americans all across the country," Obama said. But the meeting will "allow everybody to get the real facts about the healthcare crisis that we face," and why it's so important for deficit reduction—and for families all across the country, he added.

"The key is to not let the moment slip away," Obama said. "I have to say part of what makes healthcare so hard—and why we are the only advanced nation on Earth that doesn't have some form of universal health care—is because even when the system doesn't work, people still want to kind of cling on to the devil they know because they're worried about the devil they don't," he said.

“If you go out there right now [and], you ask the average person . . . they're certain that they would have to go into a government plan, which isn't true," he said.

“But that's still a perception a lot of people have.

They're still pretty sure that they'd have to give up their doctor . . . They're still positive that this is going to add to the deficit," he said.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at jsimmons@healthleadersmedia.com.

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