Obama on the Record: Healthcare Reform Town Hall

My attitude is I want to get it right, but I also want to get it done promptly. And so as long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable with moving a process forward that builds as much consensus as possible. What I don’t want is what I referred to in my speech, delay for the sake of delay — delay because people are worried about making tough decisions or casting tough votes. That’s what I don’t want to see.

So if people are legitimately working out tough problems — and some of these problems are tough. I mean, this is a big system and it’s complicated. So I have no problem if I think people are really working through these difficult issues and making sure that we get it right. But I don’t want to delay just because of politics. And I have to tell you, sometimes delays in Washington occur because people just don’t want to do anything that they think might be controversial.

And you know what? That’s now how America has made progress in the past. Medicare was controversial. Social Security was controversial. People accused Franklin Delano Roosevelt of being a socialist because he wanted to set up a system to make seniors a little more secure. Going to the moon was controversial. But at some point, if we’re going to move this country forward, we can’t be afraid to change, especially a system that we know is broken. We’ve got to get it done and we’ve got to get it done soon. (Applause.)

All right. This young — that lady right there, who’s waving at me. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you very much. My name is Semanthie Brooks and I’m the director of Community Advocacy for the Benjamin Rose Institute in Cleveland.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. (Applause.)

Q I also represent a group called Senior Voice and we, by the way, sent over 4,000 signatures to our congressional members asking their support of Medicare. And so my question is about Medicare and the doughnut hole in particular. We know that about 3.4 million seniors will fall into the doughnut hole on an annual basis. This represents about one in four seniors that will participate in the Part D program. When seniors fall into the doughnut hole, they then have to make choices about whether or not they take their medications; they break their pills in half; they make a decision about buying medication or purchasing food. My question to you, Mr. President, is that, will you support legislation that is currently being introduced in the House to close the doughnut hole over the next several years? (Applause.)

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