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Health-Care Reform Could Be Obama's Toughest Challenge
Date:6/22/2009

But experts say time could be right to succeed where others have failed

MONDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- President Barack Obama's efforts to reform health care in the United States could prove to be the toughest challenge of his already-ambitious young presidency.

But if Obama can reach that long-elusive goal, it would not only guarantee his legacy but prove to be a watershed in American history, experts say.

"Assuming that President Obama gets real health-care reform, it will be an amazing moment in American history," said Linda Fentiman, an expert in health-care law at Pace Law School in New York City. "It will bring us into the rest of the developed world, providing meaningful health-care access to all of the nation's citizens, which every other Western and several non-Western nations do. We are so far behind the rest of the world in terms of health-care access."

Added Mary Mundinger, dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City: "I think our president's focus on health reform is going to be a centerpiece of his legacy."

Few would disagree that the U.S. health-care system is in need of radical surgery.

"When you pull back far enough, you can't help but be in dismay over the gross inequity and the gross inefficiency of the system," said Thomas R. Oliver, an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Even those of us who have pretty good health-care coverage still find it extremely difficult and confusing to navigate. It's very, very bad."

"The system has acknowledged flaws," continued Oliver, who also serves as associate director for health policy at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. "Nobody is really out there defending that we have the best system in the world."

"Most of America understands that we're in financial distress and that our health-ca
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