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Obama proposes healthcare reform plan

UNITED States President Barack Obama yesterday proposed an additional US$313 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to pay for healthcare reforms expected to cost about US$1 trillion over the next decade.

"I know some question whether we can afford to act this year. But the unmistakable truth is that it would be irresponsible to not act," Obama said in an advance text.

Obama wants a healthcare reform bill on his desk by October, but faces opposition from Republicans who oppose creation of a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers.

Many of his fellow Democrats are wary of making deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, the US healthcare programs for seniors and poor people, to pay for reforms.

With the cost of US healthcare continuing to rise rapidly, Obama argued the country could not afford to wait another year for sweeping changes. But he acknowledged the plan would increase government costs in the short run.

Obama has pledged to come up with enough spending cuts and new revenue to pay for reforms.

"So today, I am announcing an additional US$313 billion in savings that will rein in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency and the quality of care -- savings that will ensure that we have nearly US$950 billion set aside to offset the cost of healthcare reform over the next 10 years," Obama said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said: "We don't think we can do all the things he (Obama) is recommending ... We think his 600 (billion) is our 400."


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