Obama on the Record: News Conference on Healthcare Reform

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, you haven’t seen me out there blaming the Republicans. I’ve been a little frustrated by some of the misinformation that’s been coming out of the Republicans, but that has to do with, as you pointed out, politics. You know, if you’ve got somebody out there saying — not that let’s get the best bill possible but instead says, you know, let’s try to beat this so we can gain political advantage — well, that’s not I think what the American people expect.

I am very appreciative that people like Chuck Grassley on the Finance Committee in the Senate, people like Mike Enzi, people like Olympia Snowe, have been serious in engaging Democrats in trying to figure out how do we actually get a system that works. And even in those committees where you didn’t see Republican votes, we’ve seen Republican ideas. So, for example, in the HELP Committee in the Senate, 160 Republican amendments were adopted into that bill because they’ve got good ideas to contribute.

So the politics may dictate that they don’t vote for health care reform because they think, you know, it’ll make Obama more vulnerable. But if they’ve got a good idea we’ll still take it. And in terms of Democrats, the fact of the matter is that because this is a big issue, I think that a lot of Democrats have a lot of different ideas — some of them have to do with regional disparities. For example, you’ve got some Democrats who are concerned that the Medicare reimbursement rates in their communities are too low and so they’d like to see the bill incorporate higher rates for doctors and providers in rural communities to incentivize good care in those communities. That’s a legitimate concern. But the minute you bring up that concern then that adds money, which means that we then have to find additional dollars.

So this is part of just the normal give-and-take of the legislative process. I’m confident at the end we’re going to have a bill that Democrats and some Republicans support.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You said earlier that you wanted to tell the American people what’s in it for them, how will their family benefit from health care reform. But experts say that in addition to the benefits that you’re pushing there is going to have to be some sacrifice in order for there to be true cost-cutting measures, such as Americans giving up tests, referrals, choice, end-of-life care. When you describe health care reform you don’t — understandably you don’t talk about the sacrifices that Americans might have to make. Do you think — do you accept the premise that other than some tax increases on the wealthiest Americans, the American people are going to have to give anything up in order for this to happen?

THE PRESIDENT: They’re going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier. And I — speaking as an American, I think that’s the kind of change you want.

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