Healthcare Town Hall - Page 13 of 18

Healthcare Town Hall

This next eight weeks is going to be critical, though. And you need to be really paying attention and putting pressure on your members of Congress to say, there’s no excuses. If we don’t get it done this year, we’re probably not going to get it done. And understand, even if you’re happy with your health care right now, if you look at the trends, remember what I said: Your premiums are going up three times faster than your wages and your incomes. So just kind of extrapolate, think about what does that mean for you five years from now or 10 years from now? If nothing changes, then you, essentially, are going to be going more — deeper and deeper into your pocket to keep the health care that you’ve got. And at some point your employers may decide, we just can’t afford it. And there are a lot of people where that’s happened, where their employers suddenly say, either you can’t afford it or you’ve got to pay a much bigger share of your health care.

So don’t think that somehow just by standing still, just because you’re doing okay now, that you’re going to be doing good five years from now. We’ve got to catch the problem now before it overwhelms our entire economy. (Applause.)

It’s a guy’s turn. It’s a guy’s turn. (Applause.) This gentleman right here, right there in the blue shirt. There you go.

Q I don’t know if I need a microphone or not —

THE PRESIDENT: You got a good voice, but we still want to give you a microphone. Hold on a second. Where’s my mic people? Here we go.

Q My name is Matt Stein. I’m a teacher. I’ve been in education for almost 20 years. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Matt. Where do you teach? Where do you teach?

Q I teach at North Central Area schools in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Outstanding. (Applause.)

Q UP, baby? (Laughter.)

Q UP power, UPers. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Is that what you call yourselves, UPers?

Q Yes. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, that’s cool. (Applause.) All right.

Q Proudly, we call ourselves UPers. (Laughter.)

One of the things that I’ve learned in education in the last 20 years is that the system is not broken. And it bothers me when I hear politicians, and even my President, say that our educational system is broken. Not to insult you, but —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t feel insulted.

Q Good. This system works in cases. There are great things happening in Green Bay and Appleton and all over the UP. And there are things that can be reproduced. My question is: When will the focus be on reproducing those things — smaller classrooms, creating communities in your classrooms — and moving the focus away from single-day testing and test-driven outcomes? (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me — first of all, thank you for teaching. My sister is a teacher, and I think there is no more noble a profession than helping to train the next generation of Americans. (Applause.)