Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

But the problem is, right now, that a lot of the health system doesn’t reimburse and incentivize that kind of preventive work and that wellness work. And so what we want to do is absolutely in this reform package, there will be reimbursements for and incentives for prevention and wellness, and we’re going to make sure that those are the things that don’t require out-of-pocket costs for the patient so that they’re not being discouraged from using it, but rather they’re being encouraged from using it — that will make all the difference in the world. (Applause.)

All right. How much time we have? Okay, I’ve got time — I’m sorry, guys — I only have time for one more question. One more question. And I’ve got to say, I apologize, guys, but I’m going to go with — I’m going to go with another young person here — this young man right there, who’s got a jacket on, so he’s looking very sharp. (Laughter and applause.) Thanks for dressing up, guys — you got the bowtie, you got the jacket. I didn’t dress that good when I was their age. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Parker Smith. I’m 14 years old; I’m going to be a freshman here.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, Parker.

Q All right. How can you reassure many Americans around the country that your health care proposal isn’t too much, too fast?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that’s a great question. That’s a great question. (Applause.) First of all, I do think that sometimes people get the idea — you know, I had said, let’s get this done by August. Now, what I was referring to is, let’s get bills voted out of the House and the Senate by August. That still means that we’d have to come back in the fall; we’d have to reconcile the differences between the Senate bill and the House bill; have a new bill; it would go back to the Senate and the House again to be voted on; then finally come to my desk. Our target date is to get this done by the fall. That’s the bottom line. But keep in mind that even if we got it done in the fall, most of these changes would be phased in over several years. So it’s not as if you’re going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly the health care system is all changed completely. We are going to phase this in, in an intelligent, deliberate way.

But there are some changes that I think have to take effect pretty quick; for example, making sure that we’re reducing prescription drugs for seniors. We shouldn’t have to wait a long time to get that done. (Applause.) We shouldn’t have to wait a long time to make sure that people don’t lose their insurance because of a preexisting condition. There are some things that I think that we can start implementing where there’s a pretty broad consensus it needs to get done.

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