Obama on the Record: Health Reform

President Addresses Healthcare

skyrocketing costs, we’ll need to modernize our system and invest in prevention. We can agree that if we want greater accountability and responsibility, we have to ensure that people aren’t overcharged for prescription drugs, or discriminated against for pre-existing conditions — and we need to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse in government programs. I think most of us would agree that if we want to cover all Americans, we can’t make the mistake of trying to fix what isn’t broken. So if somebody has insurance they like, they should be able to keep that insurance. If they have a doctor that they like, they should be able to keep their doctor. They should just pay less for the care that they receive.

And finally, we can all agree that if we want to translate these goals into policies, we need a process that is as transparent and inclusive as possible. And that’s why I’ve asked all of you — representatives of organizations, interests, and parties from across the spectrum — to join us here today. In fact, this was the hottest ticket in town. (Laughter.) That’s why we asked concerned citizens like the folks on this stage to organize open meetings across America where people could air their views. As Travis said, more than 3,000 meetings were held in all 50 states and D.C.; more than 30,000 people attended. I thank them for their input and their ideas, and look forward to reading the report that Travis has presented to me.

In this effort, every voice has to be heard. Every idea must be considered. Every option must be on the table. There should be no sacred cows. Each of us must accept that none of us will get everything that we want, and that no proposal for reform will be perfect. If that’s the measure, we will never get anything done. But when it comes to addressing our health care challenge, we can no longer let the perfect be the enemy of the essential. And I don’t think anybody would argue that we are on a sustainable path when it comes to health care.

Finally, I want to be very clear at the outset that while everyone has a right to take part in this discussion, nobody has the right to take it over and dominate. The status quo is the one option that’s not on the table, and those who seek to block any reform at all — any reform at any costs will not prevail this time around.

I didn’t come here to Washington to work for those interests. I came here to work for the American people — the folks I met on the campaign trail, the people I hear from every single day in the White House. Folks who are working hard, making all the right decisions, but still face choices that no one in this country should have to make: how long to put off that doctor’s appointment; whether to fill that prescription; when to give up and head to the emergency

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