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'More has to be done' on health reform, Obama official says

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and budget chief Peter Orszag vow that the effort won't break the budget, but more work lies ahead.

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Top Obama administration officials went into damage-control mode Sunday, seeking to reassure Americans that healthcare reform would do what it claims: rein in rising costs.

In a report released Thursday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that proposed healthcare legislation would not stop the upward arc of healthcare spending.

President Obama began the administration’s rejoinder in his weekly radio address Saturday, insisting he would not sign a healthcare bill that added to the federal deficit. Two of his top healthcare lieutenants – Kathleen Sebelius and Peter Orszag – continued the effort on Sunday talk shows.

The gist: Be patient. Many twists and turns lie ahead.

Trying to predict the shape and success of a potential healthcare-reform bill now is like picking “who will win a marathon at mile 19” of the 26, said Mr. Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

One plan passed by the House Ways and Means Committee Friday levies taxes on the rich to pay for broader healthcare. The Senate Finance Committee has gone back to the drawing board after the CBO said its plan would cost $1.6 trillion. The Senate health committee has passed its own bill, without a firm plan for how to pay for it.

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