Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

to nurse faculty, they get paid even worse than active nurses. So what happens is, is that it is very difficult for a nurse practitioner to go into teaching, because they’re losing money.

The notion that we would have to import nurses makes absolutely no sense. And for people who get fired up about the immigration debate and yet don’t notice that we could be training nurses right here in the United States — and there are a lot of people who would love to be in that helping profession and yet we just aren’t providing the resources to get them trained — that’s something that we’ve got to fix. That should be a no-brainer. That should be a bipartisan no-brainer to make sure that we’ve got the best possible nursing staffs in the country. (Applause.)

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I know you stressed the cost efficiencies and that is certainly important and it was an important part of our breakout session. But I also want to commend you for also being honest in saying that there has to be a new source of funding, as well, because in your reserve fund you mentioned a new source of funding dealing with deductions, whatever, for people over a certain income. And I do notice that there is a tendency to think that we can somehow expand health insurance and achieve coverage for everyone just with the existing money in the system, and I don’t think that’s true.

So I want to commend you for that, and I want everyone to keep in mind the fact that we have to come up with a new source of funding, either what you proposed or perhaps others, because, even as you said in your budget message, that this only pays, this reserve fund, for about half the cost if we’re going to cover everyone. And that’s an important part of this, as well.

THE PRESIDENT: Let me — I want to make a important distinction, though, between short-term costs and long-term costs. I don’t think that we can expand coverage on the front end without some money. By definition, we will not have changed the system sufficiently to drive down costs in order to pay for new people being part of the system.

Now, keep in mind, we’re already paying for those folks. Every single person at home, the average family is paying $900 per family in additional premiums because of the care that people are receiving in emergency rooms. So we’re paying for it, but it’s oftentimes hidden.

But capturing those savings will take some time. Health IT is going to save money — but it’s not going to save money in year one or year two; it’ll save money in year 10, 11, 15 and 20. If we’re doing a good job on prevention and are reducing rates of obesity — if we went back to the obesity rates that existed back in 1980, we’d save the system a trillion dollars, but we’re not going to do that overnight — it’s going

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