Earlier this afternoon, I posted live Twitter updates on President Obama's first -ever online web-hall meeting. Taking a variety of questions from Internet viewers and a live White House audience, the president addressed several queries on health care.

One online questioner asked: Why can't we have a universal system based on patients' need, not finances?

Calling the employer-based system "an accident of history that works," Obama confirmed that employer-based health benefits should continue to be the foundation of the nation's system of care, but that we need to "fill gaps" in access and focus on prevention. Further, addressing critics who said his current budget proposals will swell the country's deficit, the president responded that one of keys to reducing the deficit is addressing problems in accessing and purchasing health care.

An audience member asked the president about how to amend insurance rules so that individuals with preexisting conditions still can obtain care and coverage affordably.

Referencing his mother's difficult struggle with ovarian cancer that was made even harder by "fighting on the phone with insurance companies," Obama emphasized that any reform of the health care system has to address pre-existing conditions in that insurers must be obligated to provide coverage.


Lastly in a humorous moment, the president addressed the question that won the most online votes: Is legalizing marijuana a sound strategy to aid economy? Joking about the interests/focus of the voting audience, Obama confirmed no, legalized marijuana is not an economic recovery tool. ;)

I thought the web-hall was a great way to include "regular people" in government. If President Obama hosts another web-hall meeting, what question would you most want him to answer? Comment and let me know.

Meanwhile, see EBN coverage of health experts' wish list of topics for Obama to address, and join our live discussion of all benefits topics on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ebneditor.

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