Obama on the Record: News Conference on Healthcare Reform

THE PRESIDENT: I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that unless you have a what’s called a single-payer system in which everybody is automatically covered, then you’re probably not going to reach every single individual, because there’s always going to be somebody out there who thinks they’re indestructible and doesn’t want to get health care, doesn’t bother getting health care, and then unfortunately when they get hit by a bus end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.

But that’s not the overwhelming majority of Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans want health care, but millions of them can’t afford it. So the plan that has been — that I’ve put forward and that what we’re seeing in Congress would cover — the estimates are at least 97 to 98 percent of Americans.

There might still be people left out there who, even though there’s an individual mandate, even though they are required to purchase health insurance, might still not get it, or despite a lot of subsidies are still in such dire straits that it’s still hard for them to afford it, and we may end up giving them some sort of hardship exemption.

But — I’m sorry, go ahead — so I think that the basic idea should be that in this country, if you want health care, you should be able to get affordable health care.

And given the waste that’s already in the system right now, if we just redesign certain elements of health care, then we can pay for that. We can pay for it in the short term, but we can also pay for it in the long term. And, in fact, there’s going to be a whole lot of savings that we obtain from that because, for example, the average American family is paying thousands of dollars in hidden costs in their insurance premiums to pay for what’s called uncompensated care — people who show up at the emergency room because they don’t have a primary care physician.

If we can get those people insured, and instead of having a foot amputation because of advanced diabetes they’re getting a nutritionist who’s working with them to make sure that they are keeping their diet where it needs to be, that’s going to save us all money in the long term.

Q Back to the politics of it. You mentioned two Republicans in your opening statement, but you have 60 Democratic seats, a healthy majority in the House. If you don’t get this, isn’t this a fight inside the Democratic Party, and that Republicans really aren’t playing — you can’t really blame the Republicans for this one?

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18