Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

we can keep disagreements down, we’ll be a hell of a team.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, what I meant, Charlie, was let’s give him the mic. (Laughter and applause.)

REPRESENTATIVE CAMP: It’s tough in the minority, let me tell you. (Laughter.) You do lose the microphone when you’re not in the majority.

But thank you, Mr. President. Thank you so much for bringing us all together. I think much of what has been said I can agree with. And I think particularly the idea that we have an American solution, and certainly in America the idea that a patient and a physician make the health care decisions that affect them is certainly something we need to protect.

And I just appreciate the opportunity to be here, look forward to working with you. There’s so many things that we talked about that we had in common, in terms of health information technology, wellness. But we are going to have to figure out just how much of our economy is devoted to health care, and that’s going to be a big issue we have to face.

THE PRESIDENT: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE CAMP: And this cost-shifting that goes on between public and private health care dimensions, and those are challenging things, but I look forward to working with you and your team on this.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you raise a couple of important points. Number one, doctors. And I’m assuming that we’ve got somebody — and I’m going to call on them in a second — but I’ve got a lot of very close friends who are doctors. And the enormous pressure and strain that the medical profession is now feeling from a whole variety of sources is something that we’ve got to attend to in this reform process. We’re not producing enough primary care physicians, because the costs of medical education are so high that people feel they’ve got to specialize.

The issue of malpractice insurance is real, and if you’re an OB/GYNE, that is enormous pressure that you’ve having to deal with.

One of the things that we’ve done in this budget that we’re presenting is to finally surface what had been the fiction that we weren’t going to give doctors higher reimbursements — we always did it in the end; we just didn’t budget for it — and caused enormous stress for them.

Now, the flip of it is if we’re going to do more for doctors, part of what we’ve also got to say is, if there are states like Minnesota that are providing as good or better care than other states, and yet are keeping their costs lower, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are better controlled, shouldn’t we be learning from what those states are doing, and then making that more generally applicable?

And there may be some resistance on the part of providers to say, well, you know, our circumstances are different in this state or that state. But this is what I mean when I say that data and evidence have to drive the process. If we can find better practices, then

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