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Plan targets waste in government health care programs

People for and against health care reform efforts demonstrate before President Barack Obama arrives Wednesday at St. Charles High School in suburban St. Louis.

Associated Press

People for and against health care reform efforts demonstrate before President Barack Obama arrives Wednesday at St. Charles High School in suburban St. Louis.

WASHINGTON — Touting a new initiative to reduce waste in Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs, President Barack Obama traveled to suburban St. Louis on Wednesday to keep up momentum behind his push to complete work on a health care overhaul this month.

Obama redoubled his warning that failing to step up regulation of the insurance industry as part of a broader health overhaul would leave more Americans struggling with rising premiums.

And in a campaign-style speech delivered with his shirt-sleeves rolled up, Obama called for an end to political gamesmanship in Washington and a swift vote on his health care plan.

"The time for talk is over," Obama told a crowd in St. Charles, Mo. "I'm tired of talking about it."

The president's trip — the second this week — came as administration officials and senior Democrats on Capitol Hill worked on arranging a series of votes that will be needed to send Obama health legislation before Congress recesses for its Easter break.

With Republicans opposed to a sweeping overhaul, Democrats are trying to hold the first vote next week in the House, where party leaders hope to pass the health care bill that the Senate passed in December.

They then hope to use a process known as budget reconciliation to push a package of changes through the House and Senate.

Fast facts

Democrats close

to deal, Pelosi says

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., said key Democrats were "pretty close" to an accord on subsidies to help lower-income families buy insurance, more aid for states under the Medicaid program and additional help for seniors who face a coverage gap under current Medicare drug plans.

Insurers challenged: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged health insurance providers to give up short-term profits and work with the Obama administration to overhaul health care.

Business groups hit back: A coalition of business groups plans to pressure lawmakers into voting "no" on health care legislation in an ad campaign that will last 10 days and cost up to $10 million, said Bruce Josten, of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Virginia bucks feds: Virginia's Republican-ruled House of Delegates became the first in the nation Wednesday to approve legislation that rejects any attempt to implement national health care overhaul in individual states. The measure, passed 80-17 with wide Democratic support, goes to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who intends to sign it.

Times wires

Plan targets waste in government health care programs 03/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 10:35pm]

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