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Obama Backs Health Care Reform
Date:1/20/2009

Public concern over cost, availability of care could lead to real change, experts say

TUESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- President Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to expand access to health insurance and reform health care. Early indications now suggest that, despite an ailing economy -- or perhaps because of it -- he is resolved to keep his promise.

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony, the 44th president began setting the stage for health reform.

Many health policy leaders praised his nomination of former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle, who is also leading the Obama administration's newly created White House Office of Health Reform, is thought to have a solid grasp of health policy, having outlined his vision for reform in the 2008 book Critical: What We Can Do About The Health-Care Crisis.

Earlier this month, Obama laid out an economic stimulus plan that positions health care as a cornerstone of financial growth and recovery. During his campaign, he identified health reform as a top priority, along with economic recovery and energy independence.

"The thing that's intriguing to me is, this seems to be a nice recognition of how big and how important health care is as part of the economy," said R. Paul Duncan, professor and chairman of the department of health services research, management and policy at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "There seems to be a notion that if we do good things in health care, they will not simply cost us, but in addition, they are likely to produce economic benefit."

A new national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that Americans would also like to see action on health reform. While economic recovery is far-and-away their top concern (73 percent), 43 percent said reforming health care reform sho
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