Q&A: Fiscal Summit

and young people confidence that benefits would be available to them in the short term, and from a young people’s standpoint, in the long term.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  If I can –

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  I think your comment that follow-through is going to be essential; that if we come together and have a good discussion, (inaudible) — a lot of bright people who have some very good information from various, different (inaudible) — interest groups who represent large constituencies.  If it just stops there, then it won’t have been as useful as you want it to be and as the country wants it to be.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Speaking of bright people with large constituencies — Bill Novelli.  Where’s Bill?  Is he still here?  There you are.

I know you participated in the health care panel.  Bill, your thoughts on Medicare and the interest of your membership in getting an equitable solution to what is an unsustainable situation.

MR. NOVELLI:  The whole entitlement thing is as you characterized it.  We have a real sustainability problem.  But I think you put the right frame on this, Mr. President, by saying that the path to sustainability is health care reform.  And our group I think had tremendously good ideas.  Most of the policy ideas that we all know and share were on the table today.

There’s a lot of hard policy work that’s going to have to go on, but I think we have some momentum.  But I think one of the things that also came out of the session was, we need to engage the American people.  Yes, we have to think of them as patients,  we have to think of them as insured or uninsured — but we also have to think of them as taxpayers and as voters who need to understand what the tradeoffs are, what they might lose, what they might gain.  We can all do that, but nobody could do it as well as you can.  You’ve got the bully pulpit to really carry your message to the public.

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  This is the only area where we had done a little prejudging of what needs to be done.  We have scheduled a health care summit next week.  It’s not that I’ve got summititis here — (laughter) — but rather, it’s actually exactly the point that you’re making, Bill, which is everybody here understands a lot of the tradeoffs involved in health care and that there are no perfect solutions.

But in the sound bite, political culture that we got, it’s very hard to communicate that.  And we think that it’s very important to have some forums — and I talked about this during — way back in the primary campaign, that there is a process that the public can listen to about what these tradeoffs are, because I think that some of us get on our high horse and say we’ve got the answer to health care.  Well, it turns out that, you know, there are costs involved on the front end even

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