The purpose of the daylong policy discussion at Blair House, the White House guest residence, was to suggest ways to move forward with the legislation. The group was to consider ways to control health-care costs and expand coverage, as well as deficit reduction and insurance reform.
"We all know this is urgent. And unfortunately over the course of the year, despite all of the hearings that took place and all of the negotiations that took place and people on both sides of the aisle worked long and hard on this issue, you know, this became a very ideological battle," Obama said, as he led off a meeting with House leaders and Democratic and Republican senators and members of Congress.
"It became a very partisan battle and politics, I think, ended up trumping practical common sense. But what I'm hoping to accomplish today is for everybody to focus not just on where we differ, but focus on where we agree, because there actually is some significant agreement on a host of issues."
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, speaking on behalf of Republicans, said that lawmakers should scrap the health-care bill Senate Democrats passed on Christmas Eve and start from scratch.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi countered that it's too late to start over and that it is not an option.
Although the Democrats control both the House and the Senate, the two chambers have been unable to agree on health-care legislation, and Republicans have uniformly opposed it.
Obama's plan to reform health care was dealt another blow following the election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to the Senate, which gave the party enough votes to filibuster bills.
Earlier this week, Obama unveiled his own compromise health-care plan that attempts to bridge the differences between the stalled House and Senate bills. It would not include a publicly run insurance plan, but would allow the government to cap health insurance premiums "if a rate increase is unreasonable and unjustified."
It would also require most Americans to carry health insurance coverage and bar insurance companies from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more.
The proposal claims it will insure more than 31 million Americans who cannot afford health insurance and reduce the U.S. deficit over the next 10 years by $100 billion.