Obama on the Record: News Conference on Healthcare Reform

With that, I’ll take your questions. And we are going to start off with Ben Feller of Associated Press.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Congress, as you alluded to, is trying to figure out how to pay for all of this reform. Have you told House and Senate leaders which of their ideas are acceptable to you? If so, are you willing to share that stand of yours with the American people? And if you haven’t given that kind of direction to congressional leaders, are you willing to — are you willing to explain why you’re not stepping in to get a deal done, since you’re the one setting a deadline?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, before we talk about how to pay for it, let’s talk about what exactly needs to be done. And the reason I want to emphasize this is because there’s been a lot of misinformation out there.

Right now premiums for families that have health insurance have doubled over the last 10 years. They’ve gone up three times faster than wages. So what we know is that if the current trends continue, more and more families are going to lose health care, more and more families are going to be in a position where they keep their health care but it takes a bigger bite out of their budget, employers are going to put more and more of the costs on the employees or they’re just going to stop providing health care altogether.

We also know that with health care inflation on the curve that it’s on we are guaranteed to see Medicare and Medicaid basically break the federal budget. And we know that we’re spending on average, we here in the United States are spending about $6,000 more than other advanced countries where they’re just as healthy. And I’ve said this before — if you found out that your neighbor had gotten the same car for $6,000 less, you’d want to figure out how to get that deal. And that’s what reform is all about: How can we make sure that we are getting the best bang for our health care dollar?

Now, what we did very early on was say two-thirds of the costs of health care reform — which includes providing coverage for people who don’t have it, making it more affordable for folks who do, and making sure that we’re over the long term creating the kinds of systems where prevention and wellness and information technologies make the system more efficient — that the entire cost of that has to be paid for and it’s got to be deficit-neutral. And we identified two-thirds of those costs to be paid for by tax dollars that are already being spent right now.

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