Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to do more than that for you. In our health care reform proposal we have already extracted concessions from the pharmaceutical industry that we know will right away close half of that doughnut hole. They’ve already put $80 billion on the table. That’s part of the reason AARP endorsed the bill.

Now, by the way, for those of you who don’t know what the doughnut hole is, the way the Medicare prescription drug plan works is that it helps you pay for your prescription drugs until you hit a certain ceiling, a certain level of several thousand dollars, and then suddenly, the subsidies, the help from the federal government just go away. And you’ve got to pay out-of-pocket expenses of several more thousands of dollars until you get to the point where help kicks in again. So that’s why they call it the doughnut hole, because there’s a hole right in the middle where you don’t get any help. And it costs seniors thousands of dollars.

One of the things that we can do through reform is to make sure that we are moving to close that doughnut hole. That’s a commitment that will be contained in this health care reform bill that we get passed. (Applause.)

All right. This young man right here. We’ll get a young guy in here.

Q Hi, Mr. President. My name is Brooks Boran (ph). I am going to be a junior in high school. My question is, for a student, how can we help get this reform passed? (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that, I like that. Well, first of all, I very much appreciate that as a junior in high school you’re still thinking about — you’re already thinking about this, because usually young people, they think they’re indestructible so they don’t need health care. (Laughter.) And in fact, a high proportion of the uninsured are actually young people, particularly right after they graduate from college, they haven’t gotten a job yet that provides health care, and they are very vulnerable if, heaven forbid, something happens to them.

There have been a couple of ideas that we’ve talked about — for example, extending the insurance of parents, making insurance companies provide — keep kids on their insurance until they’re 25. That would help a lot. (Applause.)

But the question you asked was how can you help get it done. Number one, make sure you’re persuading your parents if they’re not already convinced. But Mom is right there, so she’s already on board. (Laughter.)

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