Healthcare Town Hall - Page 6 of 18

Healthcare Town Hall

Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. I’ve got about 15, 20 minutes. Everybody sit down. (Laughter.) And here’s how we’re going to work it. There are no prearranged questions here. You just raise your hand. I haven’t pre-selected anybody. I’m going to go girl-boy-girl-boy –(laughter) — so that I’m not accused of bias in any way, all right. And I won’t be able to get to every single question, but I’ll try to get to as many as possible.

So there are microphones in the audience. If you can wait until the microphone comes to you, and that way everybody will be able to hear your question. Stand up and introduce yourself as well, that would be helpful.

This young lady right here, right here, since you’re near a microphone. There you go.

Q Good afternoon, Mr. President. I am Paulette Garren (phonetic). As a self-employed individual, I spend approximately $8,000 annually on my health insurance premium, and it’s a $2,000 deductible — no dental, no vision, no prescription coverage. As my business is declining because of the economy we have, I am now in a situation where I’m taking savings to help pay for food and housing, because I also still don’t want to lose my health insurance. And I will be frank and honest with you: I am a supporter of a single-payer system over any other system, because I do — (applause) — thank you — I do believe that it will meet your three criteria and be the most economically feasible plan that we have.

When you were speaking, you mentioned that if we go with a public and a private option, that the public option will keep the private insurers honest. My concern is that we will end up in a situation like we have with Medicare, where Medicare is basically a subsidy of private insurance companies, because folks are able to buy Medicare Advantage. It seems to me that we would take that same scenario and increase it outward for the entire country. And that is why I still support single payer, and I know that at one point you did. And I would ask that it still be on the table for consideration, and thank you so much for your time. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you for the great question.

Let me just talk about some of the different options that are out there, because sometimes there’s been confusion in the press and the public, and people use, you know, politics in talking about the issue. There are some folks who say, “socialized medicine.” You hear that all the time, “socialized medicine.” Well, socialized medicine would mean that the government would basically run all of health care. They would hire the doctors, they would run the hospitals. They would just run the whole thing. Great Britain has a system of socialized medicine.

Nobody is talking about doing that, all right? So when you hear people saying, “socialized medicine,” understand I don’t know anybody in Washington who is proposing that, certainly not me.