WASHINGTON, July 25, 2009 (AFP) - US President Barack Obama renewed his push for health reform Saturday, arguing he felt "a sense of urgency" in moving his proposal forward and blasting those advocating delay.
"Today, after a lot of hard work in Congress, we are closer than ever before to finally passing reform that will reduce costs, expand coverage, and provide more choices for our families and businesses," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
"That is why I feel such a sense of urgency about moving this process forward."
Obama wants Congress to approve his health care reform proposals by the end of the year in order to fulfill one of his key campaign promises -- providing health care to the 46 million Americans, some 15 percent of the population, who currently do not have any medical coverage.
Obama's health care plan includes a government insurance option, which has been fiercely criticized by Republicans.
The US president also hopes to cut in half runaway healthcare expenditures which, if unchecked, are forecast to gobble up one-fifth of US gross domestic product by 2013.
But he has met increasing resistance from both Republicans and even some among his own Democratic Party worried about the costs of such a reform.
In a setback for the president, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that lawmakers had given up on a vote before September.
In his address, Obama said that calls for a delay in passing the measure were being used by reform opponents as a tactic designed to stop the proposed changes.
"Some have even suggested that, regardless of its merits, health care reform should be stopped as a way to inflict political damage on my administration," the president said.
"I'll leave it to them to explain that to the American people," he continued. "What I'm concerned about is the damage that's being done right now to the health of our families, the success of our businesses, and the long-term fiscal stability of our government."