Obama: Health care overhaul by year's end

August 5, 2009 10:20:38 AM PDT
President Barack Obama promised Wednesday that there will be an overhaul of the health care system before the end of the year and said it doesn't have to be a bipartisan effort. Visiting economically stressed Indiana to announce $2.4 billion in taxpayer grants for create electric cars and tens of thousands of jobs, Obama also pledged successful conclusion of an ambitious health care overhaul that he has argued would stabilize the nation's fiscal health.

"I promise you, we will pass reform by the end of this year because the American people need it," the president said.

That will take some doing; A handful of bills currently is circulating in the House and Senate amid at-times divisive policy arguments. The White House previously had said that it wanted Obama to be able to sign those changes into law by the end of the year.

In an interview after his speech, Obama said he is not wedded to a bill with Republican as well as Democratic support. He said he is encouraged that some in the GOP are negotiating with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, but signaled impatience with protracted talks that haven't yet produced legislation.

"Sometime in September we're going to have to make an assessment" about whether to keep trying to negotiate with Republicans, he told MSNBC.

Obama said he "would prefer Republicans working with us" but that getting his main priorities for a health care overhaul are more important.

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