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White House Announces Regional Health Care Forums

As an offshoot to yesterday's White House health care summit, the Obama administration today announced a series of regional forums in the same vein.

Expanding coverage to the uninsured is one of the administration's top priorities. President Obama made it clear at yesterday's event – a gathering that brought together lawmakers, health care professionals, insurers, and special interest groups – that he hopes to pass major health care legislation this year.

"The time for reform is now and these regional forums are some of the key first steps toward breaking the stalemate we have been stuck in for far too long," Mr. Obama said in a statement announcing the regional summits. "The forums will bring together diverse groups of people all over the country who have a stake in reforming our health care system and ask them to put forward their best ideas about how we bring down costs and expand coverage for American families."

Forums have been scheduled in California, Michigan, Iowa, Vermont, and North Carolina for March and April. Each event will be hosted by the state's governor and will involve a grab bag of doctors, policy experts, and patients. The White House announced that the forums will be centered on conversations between regular citizens, Republican and Democratic office holders, and administration officials.

Mr. Obama won't be there, but each event will begin with a video message from the president.

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