Obama exhorts lawmakers to fix health care system

Published February 25, 2010

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has opened his health care summit by urging Democrats and Republicans to put aside differences and fix "one of the biggest drags on the economy."

Obama said "everybody understands that the problem is not getting better, it's getting worse." He said projections anticipate health insurance premiums rising substantially. He also said businesses are having to make decisions about dropping health care coverage for their employees.

He also said the escalating costs of medical care in this country are aggravating a deepening federal deficit. He acknowledged to the lawmakers sitting before him at the Blair House, "I know I'm telling you things you already know."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has opened the high-stakes health-care summit he hopes will break the political gridlock stalling a medical system overhaul.

His high expectations rested on a virtually unprecedented gathering of key congressional Democrats and Republicans, taking seats at his invitation at a hollow square table with name placards in a brightly lit room of the stately Blair House, the guest quarters for White House visitors.

Obama walked around the table and shook hands at the outset before convening the conference. Among the congressional figures gathered around the table was Sen. John McCain, the Republican who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Written by RICARDO ALONSON-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

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