Schwarzenegger supports health overhaul goals

WASHINGTON — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today he supports President Barack Obama’s goals of overhauling the nation’s health care system, putting him at odds with some fellow Republicans in Congress.

In a statement, Schwarzenegger said he appreciated Obama’s partnership with the states and his effort to hold down costs and improve quality. He urged lawmakers from both parties to “move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people.”

However, the moderate Republican did not endorse any of the Democratic-crafted bills in Congress.

Schwarzenegger’s comments come as the White House and Senate Democrats have been highlighting other statements of support from Republicans — though most have been lukewarm or accompanied by various caveats. Tommy Thompson, who headed the Health and Human Services Department under President George W. Bush, said Monday the Senate Finance Committee bill “is another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform.”

Bill Frist, a heart surgeon and former Senate Republican leader, told Time magazine he would vote for the Finance bill if he were still in Congress. Both Frist and Thompson said the bill could be improved, however.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent first elected as a Republican, said Monday that health care legislation deserves support across the political spectrum.

Congressional Republicans are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the health care bills in the House and Senate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today that Americans want common-sense reform but not what the Democrats have proposed.

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