Obama Takes Healthcare Reform to AARP

THE PRESIDENT: The idea is not the cost — it’s not a cost containment commission that’s been proposed. It’s been what I just described — an independent medical advisory committee modeled on the kind of committee that is called MedPAC right now. It’s got people who are health care experts, nurses, doctors, hospital administrators. The idea is how do you get the most value for your health care dollar.

Now, the objective is to control costs. But it’s not cost containment by just denying people care that they need. Instead it’s reducing costs by changing the incentives and the delivery system in health care so that people are not paying for care that they don’t need. The more we can reduce those unnecessary costs in health care, the more money we have to provide people with the necessary costs — the things that really pay high dividends in terms of people becoming healthier.

And this is pretty straightforward. I mean, it’s pretty logical. If you think about your own family budget — if you could figure out a way to reduce your heating bill by insulating your windows, then that money that you saved — you’re still warm inside; you’re just as comfortable as you were — it’s just you’re not wasting all that energy and sending it in the form of higher bills to the electric company or the gas company. And that’s then money that you can use to save for your retirement or help your kid go to college.

Well, it’s the same principle within the health care system. If we can do the equivalent of insulating some windows and making the house more efficient, you’re still going to be warm; you’re just going to be able to save some money. In this case, you’re still going to be healthy; you will just have saved some money and that money then we can use to lower your prescription drug costs, for example.

MR. CUTHBERT: We have an Internet question next from Alpharetta, Georgia. Robert asks, if the new health care reform bill is so great for all Americans, why are members of Congress and other arms of government excluded from having to participate?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I actually think that the health care exchange that people like Jeanine would be able to participate in would be very similar to the kind of program that we have for the federal health care employees.

But keep in mind — I mean, this is something that I can’t emphasize enough: You don’t have to participate. You don’t — if you are happy with the health care that you’ve got, then keep it. If you like your doctor, keep it. Nobody is going to go out there and say, you’ve got to change your health care plan.

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