US President Barack Obama on Saturday renewed his appeal to Congress to vote on his health care reform, arguing that any delay would allow insurance companies to continue their old practices.

"We are very close. And so I ask Congress to finish its work," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"I ask them to give the American people an up or down vote. And let's show our citizens that it's still possible for Washington to look out for their interests and their future."

Last month, Obama hosted an unusual day-long health care "summit" with key Republicans and included four of their main ideas in his proposal. Republican leaders however have said the changes were not enough.

Since then, the president has been pushing Congress to pass his historic health care overhaul by a party-line vote.

Democratic congressional aides have said they hope to pass a final bill before the start of a two-week Easter recess at the end of the day on March 26.

They say that would enable lawmakers to focus more on the bleak US jobs picture in the months ahead.

Obama warned that if lawmakers let this opportunity pass for another year or another decade, more Americans would lose their family's health insurance if they lost their job - or even switched jobs.

"More small businesses will be forced to choose between health care and hiring," he continued. "More insurance companies will raise premiums and deny coverage."

Obama also warned that the rising costs of Medicare and Medicaid - the government-run health insurance programs for the seniors and the poor -- would sink the US government "deeper and deeper into debt."

This video was published to the Web by the White House on Saturday, March 6, 2010.

With AFP.