Barack Obama, the onetime Democratic senator from Illinois who made healthcare reform a cornerstone of his race for the White House, officially took office today after being sworn in as the nations 44th president by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Tens of thousands of people have spent most of the morning jockeying for green space on the National Mall, where space is tightand security is even tighter. Commuters coming into the city packed trains and other modes of public transportation to navigate downtown Washington in order to glimpse the swearing-in ceremony. Obama is expected to give his inauguration address around noon ET.
Reform advocates have largely fallen in line with Obamas call for a health system overhaul, based on the use of electronic health records, new and expanded government programs and payment reform. Indeed, one of the first pieces of legislation the new president is expected to sign is a bill that renews and grows a popular federal-state childrens health insurance program.
Congress is also expected to send Obama a giant economic stimulus package, which presently holds about $100 billion in healthcare funding, the lions share going to a boost in the federal governments share of Medicaid but with several billion more going to help spur the adoption of health information technology.
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