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House bill will make health care a US right

UNITED States House Democratic leaders, pledging to meet the president's goal of health care legislation before their August break, are offering a US$1.5 trillion plan that for the first time would make health care a right and a responsibility for all Americans. Left to pick up most of the tab were medical providers, employers and the wealthy.

President Barack Obama has made overhauling health care the prime domestic objective of his first terms and has pushed the House and Senate aggressively to stick to the pre-vacation timetable.

That would let him sign comprehensive legislation in October.

The US is the only developed nation that does not have a health plan for all its citizens. About 50 million of America's 300 million people are without health insurance.

"We cannot allow this issue to be delayed. We cannot put it off again," Democrat Representative Henry Waxman said on Tuesday. "We, quite frankly, cannot go home for a recess unless the House and the Senate both pass bills to reform and restructure our health care system."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wanted floor debate to begin a week from Monday. With the Senate Finance Committee still struggling to reach consensus, that timetable could slip. Even so, it underscored a renewed sense of urgency.

Obama himself was driving the action, going off-script to push the issue during a speech in the state of Michigan.

"There's going to be a major debate over the next three weeks," Obama said in Michigan, deviating from his prepared text on new spending for community colleges.

"And don't be fooled by folks trying to scare you saying we can't change the health care system. We have no choice but to change the health care system because right now it's broken for too many Americans."

Obama's political organization is launching a series of 30-second television ads on health care for Washington and cable TV nationally. A version will run on local stations in eight states to prod senators to back the health care effort. They will run for two weeks.

In the ads, citizens describe problems they have had with the medical system and say it is time for action.


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