Obama to be sworn in today, healthcare high on his agenda

Today at noon, Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as the nation’s 44th president. While many tasks immediately await the new commander-in-chief during his first few weeks in office, Obama has said that healthcare reform remains near the top of his to-do list during his first weeks in office.

In an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, Mr. Obama said that long-term economic recovery cannot be achieved without reforming entitlement programs—chiefly, Medicare and Social Security. Acknowledging that there will be some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks and months, Obama said that any significant Medicare or Social Security reform would require striking a bargain with the American people.

“What we have done is kicked this can down the road,” he told the Post. “We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”

Obama also spoke recently to USA Today about the need to ensure the safety and well-being of the nation’s more vulnerable populations through increased state Medicaid funding. The newly proposed stimulus package and other pieces of legislation will also help Medicare providers move toward increased use of electronic health records, he told USA Today.