Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

even greater — and what I said in that forum was that I was absolutely committed to making sure that we got entitlement reform done.

The mechanism by which we do it I think is going to have to be determined by you, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner and the members of Congress. We’ve got to make certain that the various committees are comfortable with how we move forward.

But the important point that I want to emphasize today is that on Medicare and Medicaid, in particular — which everybody here understands is the 800-pound gorilla — I don’t see us being able to get an effective reform package around those entitlements without fixing the underlying problem of health care inflation. If we’ve got 6, 7, 8 percent health care inflation we could fix Medicare and Medicaid temporarily for a couple of years, but we would be back in the same fix 10 years from now. And so our most urgent task is to drive down costs both on the private side and on the public side, because Medicare and Medicaid costs have actually gone up fairly comparably to what’s been happening in the private sector what businesses and families and others have been doing. That’s why I think it’s so important for us to focus on costs as part of this overall reform package.

With respect to Social Security, I actually think it’s easier than Medicare and Medicaid, and as a consequence, I’m going to be interested in working with you. And I know that others like Senator Durbin, Lindsay Graham have already begun discussions about what the best mechanisms would be. I remain committed to that task.

But if we don’t tackle health care, then we’re going to break the bank. I think that’s true at the federal level, I think it’s true at the state level. It’s certainly true for businesses and it’s certainly true for families, okay.

Henry, do you want to just give a little feedback in terms of what you heard, and any points you’d like to make?

REPRESENTATIVE WAXMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me just say that Senator Kennedy will not be a foot soldier in this battle. He has been the inspiration to all of us, all Americans who held out the dream that every American ought to have affordable, quality health care. And I want to salute him for that. (Applause.)

Mr. President, by bringing people together — with different stakeholders and the people representing different interest groups and Democrats and the Republicans, all of us together — I think you’ve given us an opportunity not to insist that we get all that we want, but to realize that we’re part of a process; and that we if don’t get everything we want, the alternative is not to do nothing, as you pointed out earlier, but to make sure that we’ve got the best system we can develop. And that has to be a system that includes all Americans in health insurance that they’ll be able to

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