Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

Now, is it too much? I don’t think it’s too much. It’s only too much by the standards of Washington politics today, which is basically that anything just becomes this big tangle of who’s up and who’s down, and who’s advantaged and who’s not, and the special interests and the lobbyists are all scurrying around. By that standard — I know I’m working people pretty hard up on Capitol Hill — but you know what, this is not too much.

What we’re talking about is not completely scrapping the existing health care system. All we’re saying is if you’ve got health insurance, you can keep it. If you don’t have health insurance, you can now afford to buy it with some help. If you have health insurance, we’re going to reform the insurance industry so that it can still make a profit, it can still offer good services to its patients — or to its customers; it just can’t engage in some of these rules that basically have them collecting a lot of premiums but not wanting to pay out when people really need it and when people get sick. (Applause.)

So — and what we want to do — now, here’s what is complicated, is changing the delivery systems so that we actually start getting more quality for less money. That’s going to take some time. It’s not going to happen overnight.

The reason I visited the Cleveland Clinic is because along with the Mayo Clinic, they have been able to drive down costs more than any other health care system out there, while maintaining some of the highest quality.

Now, when I asked how did you go about doing it, well, they started this thing — when was it started, Cleveland Clinic? 1921. And they — what they’ve done is — for example, doctors who are part of the Cleveland Clinic get paid a salary instead of being paid fee-for-service. So that makes it easier for them to make some of these changes, because people don’t feel like maybe they’re losing some money out of pocket; they just know that they’re getting a salary.

Now, that’s not maybe the thing that every doctor is going to want to do. But there are other ways that we can take that same approach where they start thinking in terms of what’s needed for the patient, and making sure that they’re getting reimbursed for what’s good for the patient, and they don’t then have to worry about what’s the government saying, or what’s the insurance company saying; am I going to get reimbursed for this, am I not going to get reimbursed for this, do I have to fill out 15,000 forms.

I’ve said before, most people who are doctors or nurses, they didn’t get into it to fill out forms; they got into it to make people feel better, to heal the sick, and that’s what we want to free them up to do, but it will take a little time to get there. (Applause.)

So, all right, everybody, stay on your members of Congress. Keep up the heat. We’ve got to get this done. Thank you. Love you. Bye. (Applause.)

(Source: White House)

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