LGBT Leaders Attend White House Health Summit

LGBT leaders were among 150 people invited to the White House for a health care forum in which the Obama administration launched an effort to reform the nation's health care system.

BY Kerry Eleveld

March 06 2009 1:00 AM ET

BARACK OBAMA (ELEVELD) X100 | ADVOCATE.COM

Health care reform has
been a vexing national issue for years, with costs growing ever
higher even as government officials have shied away from
addressing the problem. But President Obama was clear that he
has no intention of backing down, despite the fact that some
analysts have begun to suggest the Administration should be
solely focused on the economy.

"There's been
some talk about the notion that maybe we're taking on too
much; that we're in the midst of an economic crisis and
that the system is overloaded, and so we should put this off
for another day," he told the forum's attendees. "Well,
let's just be clear. When times were good, we didn't
get it done. When we had mild recessions, we didn't get it
done. When we were in peacetime, we did not get it done. When
we were at war, we did not get it done. There is always a
reason not to do it. And it strikes me that now is
exactly the time for us to deal with this problem."

President Obama seemed
committed to compromise and transparency in the process -- two
things that could set this process apart from Clinton's failed
effort at health reform in the mid '90s.

Participants at the
forum included representatives of interest groups ranging from
doctors, nurses, and universal health care advocates to small
businesses and the pharmaceutical industry.

"In this effort,
every voice must be heard. Every idea must be considered,"
Obama said. "There will be no sacred cows in this
discussion."

The president
emphasized that lawmakers cannot "let the perfect be the
enemy of the essential" and, though he noted a
"heartfelt" and "moral imperative" among many to
provide coverage to more Americans, he pressed the point that
costs would have to be contained.

"I hope everybody
understands that -- for those of you who are passionate about
universal coverage and making sure that the moral dimension of
health care is dealt with," he said, "don't think that
we can solve this problem without tackling costs. And
that may make some in the progressive community uncomfortable,
but it's got to be dealt with."

Tags: Politics

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