Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

doctors have to be willing to learn from the experience of others in terms of controlling costs. They’ve got to be part of the solution, as well.

So since I’m talking about doctors, we’ve got Ted Epperly of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Is Ted around here somewhere? Here we go. Go ahead. You’ve got a mic right behind you.

DR. EPPERLY: Well, first, Mr. President, what an honor to be here and to be with all of you. Speaking on behalf of over 100,000 family doctors, we’re ready to do our part. We very much believe that we need to expand coverage in this country to everyone, and we need to fix the workforce, sir, so that all those patients have a place to go. We’ll roll up our shirt sleeves and do everything possible to make this work, because it is the right thing to do, and I applaud you and this body for doing this today, to do it this year, and we must do it. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, before we break up, because we’ve been using some time, and I’m starting to get Reggie Love signaling over there — whenever he stands, since he’s 6’5, I see him — (laughter) — and I know that we’re running out of time. Are there some people that I did not call on that have a critical question or point that they would like to make?

Yes, go ahead, please.

REPRESENTATIVE CAPPS: Thank you very much. I’m Lois Capps, and I will love to follow the doctor. I also want to say to Senator Kennedy, this is the time. As one of three nurses in the U.S. Congress, the proposals you are putting forward resonate. Nurses do provide quality care. They help reduce costs through increased preventive care, and they deliver cost-effective primary care, along with physicians, especially in underserved areas.

But we have a huge shortage of nurses today. And estimates are that the U.S. will be lacking over 500,000 nurses in the next seven years. Our nursing schools are only able to admit a tiny fraction of applicants. The great — greatest bottleneck for educating more nurses comes from the lack of nursing school faculty.

You’ve done a great job by proposing an increase in nursing education in your 2010 budget and by including nurse education funding in the Recovery Act. I’d love to hear your thoughts. If not — if there’s no time today, I’d love to pursue this — there are other nurses in the room — on how we can further advance nursing education and faculty training, because they are going to be essential to our overall efforts to contain costs while expanding and improving care. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me respond to this right away, because it’s not that complicated. Nurses provide extraordinary care. I mean, they are — they are the front lines of the health care system. And they don’t get paid very well. Their working conditions aren’t as good as they should be. And when it comes

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