Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

through the market, I’d be happy to do it that way. If there was a way of doing it that involved more government regulation and involvement, I’m happy to do it that way, as well.

I just want to figure out what works. But that requires us to actually look at the evidence and try to figure out, based on the experience that now has been accumulated for a lot of years, you know, how can we improve the system. And I’m absolutely confident that there’s going to be low-hanging fruit. For example, the issue of health IT — I don’t think there’s any dispute between Newt Gingrich and Ted Kennedy that if we digitalize our health care system, we’re going save money over the long term and we’re going to reduce error and save lives.

There are going to be some other areas that’s not such low-hanging fruit and there’s greater dispute about what might work. But we have to keep that open mind that you called for, Jo Ann. That’s going to be critical.

Let me go to Max Baucus and then Chuck Grassley. I want to get a sense of the folks on the finance committee — they’re going to have some influence on this process. (Laughter.) Just a little bit. (Laughter.) Max.

SENATOR BAUCUS: Thank you, Mr. President. First, we’ve got some real luminaries in this room — yourself. A few hours ago, you mentioned that President Roosevelt tried to accomplish health care reform. He’s over there right there in the corner — (laughter) –

THE PRESIDENT: There’s Teddy — the other Teddy. (Laughter.)

SENATOR BAUCUS: And the third luminary is sitting right to my right, right here. And I think in the spirit of all three of you, this is a terrific opportunity.

Second, the American public wants it. That’s a no-brainer. We’re at a time in American history when the American people want health care reform, for all the reasons that you mentioned. And it is, as you mentioned, a moral and physical imperative. There’s no doubt about that. And you’ve started this process I think in very much the right way, namely, getting us all together, a tone and a culture and a feeling of cooperation in a constructive way, evidence-based — what’s the science, what works/doesn’t work, practically and pragmatically.

And the real key here is for us to continue that frame of mind, continue that attitude, keep everybody at the table. This is all-encompassing. There are tradeoffs everywhere. This is not a short-term, tactical exercise. This is a strategic, longer-term plan here.

There has to be a uniquely American solution. We’re not Europe. We’re not Canada. We’re not Japan. We’re not other countries. We’re American, with public and private participation. And there’s no doubt in my mind just tapping into the good old American can-do and entrepreneurial spirit that we are going to find a solution. And the key here really is to keep — for us to all stay at the table, keep an open mind, after we’ve seen how this works with that and

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