4 Mar 2010

Obama urges Congress to vote on healthcare reform

3:44 pm on 4 March 2010

United States President Barack Obama has urged Congress to vote by simple majority on healthcare reform as he makes a final push to have his proposals adopted.

Mr Obama said Congress should "finish its work" and vote on the legislation in the next few weeks.

Healthcare has been a priority for Mr Obama but the legislation has been blocked by the Republican minority, the BBC reports.

Last week, a televised summit hosted by Mr Obama in Washington failed to break the deadlock between the parties.

Mr Obama wants Congress to back the latest version of his $US950 billion plan to cover uninsured Americans and lower premiums.

"I believe the United States Congress owes the American people a final vote on healthcare reform," Mr Obama said in a speech at the White House.

He said the proposed reforms had incorporated the best ideas from the Democrats and the Republicans.

"I ask Congress to finish its work, and I look forward to signing this reform into law. At stake right now is not just our ability to solve this problem, but our ability to solve any problem."

Mr Obama said he opposed Republican calls to reject comprehensive bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate last year and begin again with a more step-by-step approach.

Health care legislation is stalled in Congress as the Senate Democrats no longer have the 60-seat majority required to defeat blocking tactics by Republicans.

Both chambers need to pass a unified version of the legislation for the president to sign it into law.