Obama on the Record: Closing Remarks at Health Forum

to switch gears and get some groups in here, and then I’ll come back to a couple of other legislators.

Karen Ignagni — there you are, good. Why don’t you wait for a mic, Karen, so that we can hear you. Karen represents America’s Health Insurance Plans.

MS. IGNAGNI: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for inviting us to participate in this forum. I think on behalf of our entire membership, they would want to be able to say to you this afternoon, and everyone here, that we understand we have to earn a seat at the table.

We’ve already offered a comprehensive series of proposals. We want to work with you, we want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment. We hear the American people about what’s not working. We’ve taken that very seriously. You have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year.

THE PRESIDENT: Good, thank you. Karen, that’s good news. That’s America’s Health Insurance Plans. (Applause.)

And while I’m on it, why don’t I call on Dan Danner, who’s NFIB. Is Dan still here? There he is. Dan.

MR. DANNER: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Give us the business perspective.

MR. DANNER: I’m honored to be here representing small business. We do think that small business has a key role in this debate, and for them, cost is still the top issue. And we very much look forward to finding a solution together that works for America’s job creators. So, appreciate being here, and thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. One thing I want to talk about just — this whole cost issue. I can’t emphasize this enough: There is a moral imperative to health care. I get 40,000 letters, I guess, every day here in the White House. I don’t read all 40,000 — (laughter) — but my staff selects 10 every single day that I read and try to respond to as many of them as possible. It’s a way of staying in touch with the constituencies that I had a chance to meet during the course of the campaign.

I can tell you that on average, out of the 10 at least three every single day relate to somebody who’s having a health care crisis. Either it’s a small business that’s frustrated because they can’t even insure themselves, much less their employees; it’s a mom who’s trying to figure out how to insure their child because they make a little bit too much money so they don’t qualify for SCHIP in their state — heartbreaking stories. So there is a moral component to this that we can’t leave behind.

Having said that, if we don’t address costs, I don’t care how heartfelt our efforts are, we will not get this done. If people think that we can simply take everybody who’s not insured and load them up in a system where costs are out of control, it’s not going to happen — we will run out of money. The federal government will be

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