Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

That’s why our proposals include a variety of reforms that would save both money and improve care — and why the nation’s largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses finally are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care. And we also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare — a proposal that could save even more money.

So overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors, save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, and that, by the way, is why AARP has endorsed our reform efforts, as well. (Applause.)

So the fact is, lowering costs is essential for families and businesses here in Ohio and all across the country. Let’s take the Ohio example — over the past few years premiums have risen nearly nine times faster than wages. That’s something that Rick and his wife understand very well. As we meet today, we’re seeing double-digit rate increases on insurance premiums all over America. There are reports of insurers raising rates by 28 percent in California; seeking a 23 percent increase in Connecticut; proposing as much as a 56 percent increase in Michigan. If we don’t act, these premium hikes will just be a preview of coming attractions. And that’s a future you can’t afford. That is a future that America can’t afford.

We spend one of every six of our dollars on health care in America, and that’s on track to double in the next three decades. The biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Small businesses struggle to cover workers while competing with large businesses. Large businesses struggle to cover workers while competing in the global economy. And we’ll never know the full cost of the dreams put on hold, the entrepreneurial ideas that are allowed to languish, the small businesses never founded — because of the fear of being without insurance, or having to pay for a policy on your own.

So, Ohio, that’s why we seek reform. And in pursuit of this reform we’ve forged a consensus that has never before been reached in the history of this country. Senators and representatives in five committees are working on legislation; three have already produced a bill. Health care providers have agreed to do their part to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending. Hospitals have agreed to bring down costs. The drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, representing millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, they’ve announced their support for reform. (Applause.)

So we have never been closer — we have never been closer to achieving quality, affordable health care for all Americans. But at the same time, there are those who would seek to delay and defeat reform — is that the air-conditioning? (Laughter.) That’s good. It’s a little warm. (Applause.) You can still hear me, though.

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