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Universal Health Care for America

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Guest Jeff_H

Seems to be working pretty well for Canada and Sweden among others'.

Nancy, you evidently haven't looked into the system in Canada and the UK very well. If they are so good then why do those who need immediate care, ie cancer come to the US to get quality health care?

Also the 40 some odd million that they always like to

quote includes illegal aliens. Who mysteriously are dropped out when they quote numbers who will be covered under the gov't plan.

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Guest Jeff_H

Every day, 14,000 more Americans lose their coverage. Premiums continue to rise at three times the rate of wages. And each day, more small businesses are forced to choose between covering their employees and keeping their doors open.

At least small businesses have a choice now, between coverage and not to provide health care.

Under the proposed plan there is no choice and many of the small businesses you seem so concerned about would have to close their doors due to the tax increases to pay for this plan. Now you have increased unemployment as well as the costs of all the goods and services.

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Guest Macon Phillips

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/Facts-Are-Stubborn-Things/

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Guest LAW

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, released the following letter responding to the White House's data collection program of email addresses and other personal information.

 

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear President Obama,

 

I write to express my concern about a new White House program to monitor American citizens' speech

opposing your health care policies, and seek your assurances that this program is being carried out in a manner consistent with the First Amendment and America's tradition of free speech and public discourse.

 

Yesturday, in an official White House release entitled "Facts are Stubborn Things," the White House Director of New Media, Macon Phillips, asserted that there was "a lot of disinformation out there," and encouraged citizens to report "fishy" speech opposing your health care policies to the White HOuse. Phillips specifically targeted private, unpublished, even casual speech, writing that "rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation." Phillips wrote "If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.com."

 

I am not aware of any precedent for a President asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed "fishy" or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests.

 

By requesting that citizens send "fishy" emails to the White House, it is inevitable that the names, email, addresses, IP adddresses, and private speech of U.S. citizens will be reported to the White House . You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights.

 

I can only imagine the level of justifiable outrage had your predecessor asked Americans to forward emails critical of his policies to the White House. I suspect that you would have been leading the charge charge in condemning such a program - and I would have been by your side denouncing such heavy-handed government action.

 

So I urge you to cease this program immediately. At the very least, I request that you detail to Congress the public protocols that your White House is following to purge the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and identities of citizens who are reported to have engaged in "fishy" speech. And I respectfully request an answer to the following:

 

How do you intend to use the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and identities of citizens who are reported to have engaged in "fishy" speech?

 

How do you intend to notify citizens who been reported for "fishy" speech?

 

What action do you intend to take against citizens who have been reported for engaging in "fishy" speech?

 

Do you own past statements qualify as "disinformation"? For example, is it "disinformation" to note in 2003 you said: "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care plan"?

 

Sincerly,

 

JOHN CORNYN

United States Senator

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Guest LAW

The White House did not realize that this forwarding of fishy email would have a threatening effect on the our freedom of speech. Nobody likes to feel like Big Brother is watching over us.

 

The Democrats are now feeling the same problems that the Republicans felt during the Bush administration. There is a grass roots movement of misinformation being sent around the web. It is what we Internet veterans call a "Flame War."

 

Both parties have to realize the power of the people. If something is considered a threat the distress message goes viral. This mistake will deflect the discourse of Health Care, which we all really want to understand

 

When asked, Gibbs acknowledged that the White House is required by law to save all correspondence it receives.

 

"Obviously, the National Archives documents correspondence with the White House," he said.

 

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/08/nobody-is-collecting-names-white-house-responds-to-charge-its-monitoring-speech-of-health-care-refor.html

 

More on this from the White House.

 

Q: would it be more likely to assume, Robert, that the White House would be curious about people who would be e-mailing them about things that they'd consider either disingenuous or inaccurate in order to keep in touch with them as part of an ongoing dialogue about their support for the White House efforts on health care -- meaning you're not looking for people who are saying things that are not accurate, but you're looking for ways to always expand the number of folks who e-mail you or Organizing For America as a political tool to keep in touch with them?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, let's -- hold on. Let me -- I'm not entirely sure what the question was, but let me put down some fence posts in the speech. OFA and the White House Web site, as you well know, are not in any way connected. Point number one.

 

Point number two, I think I was -- as Jake vouched for the veracity of your statement, I think he will equally vouch for the veracity of mine in saying that I was pretty clear that we're not collecting names from those e-mails.

 

Q He was pretty clear. (Laughter.)

 

MR. GIBBS: I like the fact that, like, Jake is the arbiter here of --

 

Q Well, I guess what I'm trying to figure out is --

 

Q Ombudsman. (Laughter.)

 

Q What I'm trying to figure out is why ask for them then? I mean, what's the goal here?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, Major, as I said to you before, as I said to Jake before --

 

Q And the staff that you have assembled here is obviously very capable of detecting all sorts of conversations in America about all sorts of issues and responding and putting together briefing points --

 

MR. GIBBS: -- we get stuff about what's said on FOX News all the time. (Laughter.)

 

Q I wouldn't be surprised. I just don't understand what the particular goal is of seeking --

 

MR. GIBBS: The particular goal is to --

 

Q -- e-mail the White House about things -- about this particular issue.

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, it's to get misinformation and to clarify for everybody what the misinformation is. I don't -- I hope that's not new. It doesn't certainly seem to be.

 

Q What, the existence of so-called misinformation, or the White House soliciting --

 

MR. GIBBS: No, the --

 

Q -- descriptions in e-mails?

 

MR. GIBBS: -- the White House looking to correct misinformation. When you make a mistake in your report, sometimes I e-mail you; occasionally I call; sometimes I just throw something against the wall. Occasionally it's all three.

 

Q You ask Jake if Major makes any mistakes in his reports. (Laughter.)

 

Q Never.

 

MR. GIBBS: That would be -- let's not put Jake in that position. But, Major, we've discussed in here seniors having a misimpression about what is contained in the bill. We've talked about all sorts of things that are misconceptions in here.

 

Q -- all the thousands of people e-mailing the White House.

 

MR. GIBBS: And all we're asking people to do is if they're confused about what health care reform is going to mean to them, we're happy to help clear that up for you. Nobody is keeping anybody's names. I do have your e-mail. That is --

 

Q As I have yours.

 

MR. GIBBS: Maybe I assume that's because I assume future mistakes, but I'm not going to say that. (Laughter.) But nobody is collecting information. Everybody is trying to give people only the facts around what we all understand is a very complicated issue.

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Guest LAW

Here are remarks by the President at Shaker Heights High School, Ohio.

 

I will not sign health insurance reform -- as badly as I think it's necessary, I won't sign it if that reform adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade -- and I mean what I say.

 

Now, we have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform to bring health care security to every American can actually be paid for by reallocating money that's already in the system but is being wasted in federal health care programs. So let me repeat what I just said: About two-thirds of health care reform can be paid for not with new revenues, not with tax hikes, just with taking money that's not being spent wisely and moving it into things that will actually make people healthy.

 

And that includes, by the way -- right now we spend more than $100 billion in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare -- subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors. We ought to take that money and use it to actually treat people and cover people, not to line pockets of insurers. (Applause.) And I'm pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals. And while they're currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health care reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families. (Applause.)

 

Now, in addition to making sure that this plan doesn't add to the deficit in the short term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs, while improving care, in the long run.

I just came from the Cleveland Clinic where I toured the cardiac surgery unit, met some of the doctors who are achieving incredible results for their patients. There's important work being done there as well as at the University Hospitals and MetroHealth. (Applause.) And Cleveland Clinic has one of the best health information technology systems in the country. And that means they can track patients and their progress. It means that they can see what treatments work and what treatments are unnecessary. It means they can provide better care for patients. They don't have to duplicate test after test because it's all online. They can help patients manage chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure and asthma and emphysema by coordinating with doctors and nurses both in the hospital and in the community.

 

And here's the remarkable thing: They actually have some of the lowest costs for the best care. That's the interesting thing about our health care system. (Applause.) Often, better care produces lower, not higher, expenses, because better care leads to fewer errors that cost money and lives. You, or your doctor, don't have to fill out the same form a dozen times. Medical professionals are free to treat people -- not just illnesses. And patients are provided preventive care earlier -- like mammograms and physicals -- to avert more expensive and invasive treatment later.

 

That's why our proposals include a variety of reforms that would save both money and improve care -- and why the nation's largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses finally are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care. And we also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare -- a proposal that could save even more money.

 

So overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors, save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, and that, by the way, is why AARP has endorsed our reform efforts, as well. (Applause.)

 

So the fact is, lowering costs is essential for families and businesses here in Ohio and all across the country. Let's take the Ohio example -- over the past few years premiums have risen nearly nine times faster than wages. That's something that Rick and his wife understand very well. As we meet today, we're seeing double-digit rate increases on insurance premiums all over America. There are reports of insurers raising rates by 28 percent in California; seeking a 23 percent increase in Connecticut; proposing as much as a 56 percent increase in Michigan. If we don't act, these premium hikes will just be a preview of coming attractions. And that's a future you can't afford. That is a future that America can't afford.

 

We spend one of every six of our dollars on health care in America, and that's on track to double in the next three decades. The biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Small businesses struggle to cover workers while competing with large businesses. Large businesses struggle to cover workers while competing in the global economy. And we'll never know the full cost of the dreams put on hold, the entrepreneurial ideas that are allowed to languish, the small businesses never founded -- because of the fear of being without insurance, or having to pay for a policy on your own.

 

So, Ohio, that's why we seek reform. And in pursuit of this reform we've forged a consensus that has never before been reached in the history of this country. Senators and representatives in five committees are working on legislation; three have already produced a bill. Health care providers have agreed to do their part to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending. Hospitals have agreed to bring down costs. The drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The American Nurses Association, the American Medical Association, representing millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, they've announced their support for reform. (Applause.)

 

So we have never been closer -- we have never been closer to achieving quality, affordable health care for all Americans. But at the same time, there are those who would seek to delay and defeat reform -- is that the air-conditioning? (Laughter.) That's good. It's a little warm. (Applause.) You can still hear me, though.

 

You know, we had one Republican strategist who told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it's better politics to "go for the kill." Another Republican senator said that defeating health reform is about "breaking" me -- when it's really the American people who are being broken by rising health care costs and declining coverage. (Applause.) You know, the Republican -- the Republican Party chair, seeking to stall our efforts, recently went so far as to say that health insurance reform was happening "too soon."

 

Well, first of all, let me just be clear. If there's not a deadline in Washington, nothing happens. (Laughter.) Nothing ever happens. And, you know, we just heard today that, well, we may not be able to get the bill out of the Senate by the end of August -- or the beginning of August. That's okay. I just want people to keep on working. Just keep working. (Applause.) I want the bill to get out of the committees; and then I want that bill to go to the floor; and then I want that bill to be reconciled between the House and the Senate; and then I want to sign a bill. And I want it done by the end of this year. (Applause.) I want it done by the fall. (Applause.)

 

Whenever I hear people say that it's happening too soon, I think that's a little odd. We've been talking about health care reform since the days of Harry Truman. (Laughter.) How could it be too soon? I don't think it's too soon for the families who've seen their premiums rise faster than wages year after year. It's not too soon for the businesses forced to drop coverage or shed workers because of mounting health care expenses. It's not too soon for taxpayers asked to close widening deficits that stem from rising health care costs -- costs that threaten to leave our children with a mountain of debt.

 

Reform may be coming too soon for some in Washington, but it's not soon enough for the American people. (Applause.) We can get this done. We don't shirk from a challenge. (Applause.)

 

We can get this done. People keep on saying, wow, this is really hard, why are you taking it on? You know, America doesn't shirk from a challenge. We were reminded of that earlier this week, when Americans and people all over the world marked the 40th anniversary of the moment that the astronauts of the Apollo 11 walked on the surface of the moon. It was the realization of a goal President Kennedy had set nearly a decade earlier. Ten years earlier he'd said we're going to the moon. And there were times where people said, oh, this is foolish, this is impossible. But President Kennedy understood and the American people set about proving what this nation is capable of doing when we set our minds to doing it.

 

There are those now who are seeing our failure to address stubborn problems as a sign that our best days are behind us; that somehow we've lost our sense of purpose, and toughness, and capacity to lead; that we can't do big things anymore. Well, I believe that this generation, like generations past, stand ready to defy the skeptics and the naysayers, that we can once again summon this American spirit. We can rescue our economy. We can rebuild it stronger than before. We can achieve quality, affordable health care for every single American. That's what we're called upon to do.

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Guest Paul

From what I am reading President Obama hopes to cut in half runaway healthcare expenditures which, if unchecked, are forecast to gobble up one-fifth of US gross domestic product (GNP) by 2013.

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Guest FactChecker

Melody Barnes, the President's Director of the Domestic Policy Council, debunks the malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. Let's start debating the facts and not the fiction.

 

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Guest Mike Kruger

Congressional opponents of health care reform are claiming that a provision in the America’s Affordable Health Choice Act will start "us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.” This is completely false.

 

The provision that opponents are alluding to is Section 1233. This bi-partisan provision would allow seniors, if they choose, to have an advanced care consultation with their doctor be paid for by Medicare once every five years, or more frequently if the patient has a life threatening disease. That is all. These consultations include "an explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title."

 

There is no reasonable basis for believing that a senior’s conversations with their doctor on the range of end-of-life care would do anything to promote euthanasia -- which is illegal in 48 states. Discussions between sick or elderly people and their doctors about end-of-life treatment have long been an accepted part of modern patient care. In 2003, a Bush administration agency issued a 20-page report outlining a five-part process for physicians to discuss end-of-life care with their patients and since 1990, Congress has required health-care agencies to inform patients about state laws regarding advance directives such as a living will.

 

Which leads to another myth: Patients will be forced to sign a living will. There is no mandate to sign a living will. If a patient chooses to complete a living will, those documents will help articulate a full range of treatment preferences, from full and aggressive treatment to limited, comfort care only.

 

The Committee wishes these were just the occasional rumor, but, unfortunately, even President Obama was asked these questions yesterday at a town hall. The President responded with, “I think that the only thing that may have been proposed in some of the bills -- and I actually think this is a good thing -- is that it makes it easier for people to fill out a living will.”

 

The Committee is working hard to ensure that America’s Affordable Health Choices Act works for Seniors, and to ensure that the American people have the facts about how health care reform will help them. The AARP endorses this bill because it includes several key provisions that improve Medicare benefits and health care for seniors, including:

 

* Protects your access to the doctor of your choice—incenting more family doctors to enter the profession and more doctors to practice in rural areas—and allowing all Americans to keep their current doctor.

* Phases in completely filling in the “donut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (where drug costs are not reimbursed at certain levels), potentially savings seniors thousands of dollars a year.

* Eliminates co-payments and deductibles for preventive services under Medicare.

* Limits cost-sharing requirements in Medicare Advantage plans to the amount charged for the same services in traditional Medicare coverage.

* Improves the low-income subsidy programs in Medicare, such as by increasing asset limits for programs that help Medicare beneficiaries pay premiums and cost-sharing.

* Computerizes medical records so seniors won’t have to take the same test over and over or relay their entire medical history every time they see a new provider.

* Starts rewarding doctors for the quality, not just the quantity, of care they provide.

* Extends solvency of Medicare by 5 years or more.

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Guest Friend of Nancy

At least small businesses have a choice now, between coverage and not to provide health care.

Under the proposed plan there is no choice and many of the small businesses you seem so concerned about would have to close their doors due to the tax increases to pay for this plan. Now you have increased unemployment as well as the costs of all the goods and services.

 

Small businesses under 25 employees would be exempt and not be required to have a Health Care program. That is 91% percent of American businesses.

 

Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, debunks the myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

 

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Guest Rhonda

Five years from now, if you own or work for a small company, you will not be able to afford health insurance.

 

Our current system of health care payment developed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, when our fathers worked for big corporations and health care was cheap.

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Guest LAW

Excerpt 1:

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL

 

Portsmouth High School

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Now, health insurance reform is one of those pillars that we need to build up that new foundation. I don't have to explain to you that nearly 46 million Americans don't have health insurance coverage today. In the wealthiest nation on Earth, 46 million of our fellow citizens have no coverage. They are just vulnerable. If something happens, they go bankrupt, or they don't get the care they need.

 

But it's just as important that we accomplish health insurance reform for the Americans who do have health insurance -- (applause) -- because right now we have a health care system that too often works better for the insurance industry than it does for the American people. And we've got to change that. (Applause.)

 

Now, let me just start by setting the record straight on a few things I've been hearing out here -- (laughter) -- about reform. Under the reform we're proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.

 

You will not be waiting in any lines. This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don't believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor. (Applause.) I don't think government bureaucrats should be meddling, but I also don't think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling. That's the health care system I believe in. (Applause.)

 

Now, we just heard from Lori about how she can't find an insurance company that will cover her because of her medical condition. She's not alone. A recent report actually shows that in the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies because of a preexisting condition. Either the insurance company refused to cover the person, or they dropped their coverage when they got sick and they needed it most, or they refused to cover a specific illness or condition, or they charged higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. No one holds these companies accountable for these practices.

 

And I have to say, this is personal for Lori but it's also personal for me. I talked about this when I was campaigning up here in New Hampshire. I will never forget my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final months, having to worry about whether her insurance would refuse to pay for her treatment. And by the way, this was because the insurance company was arguing that somehow she should have known that she had cancer when she took her new job -- even though it hadn't been diagnosed yet. So if it could happen to her, it could happen to any one of us.

 

And I've heard from so many Americans who have the same worries. One woman testified that an insurance company would not cover her internal organs because of an accident she had when she was five years old. Think about that -- that covers a lot of stuff. (Laughter.) They're only going to cover your skin. (Laughter.) Dermatology, that's covered; nothing else. (Laughter.)

 

Another lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance company discovered he had gall stones that he hadn't known about when he applied for insurance. Now, that is wrong, and that will change when we pass health care reform. That is going to be a priority. (Applause.)

 

Under the reform we're proposing, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage because of a person's medical history. Period. (Applause.) They will not be able to drop your coverage if you get sick. (Applause.) They will not be able to water down your coverage when you need it. (Applause.) Your health insurance should be there for you when it counts -- not just when you're paying premiums, but when you actually get sick. And it will be when we pass this plan. (Applause.)

 

Now, when we pass health insurance reform, insurance companies will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. And we will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because no one in America should go broke because they get sick. (Applause.)

 

And finally -- this is important -- we will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies -- (applause) -- because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer on the front end. That makes sense, it saves lives; it also saves money -- and we need to save money in this health care system.

 

So this is what reform is about. For all the chatter and the yelling and the shouting and the noise, what you need to know is this: If you don't have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform. (Applause.) If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need. And we will do this without adding to our deficit over the next decade, largely by cutting out the waste and insurance company giveaways in Medicare that aren't making any of our seniors healthier. (Applause.) Right. (Laughter.)

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Guest LAW

Excerpt 2:

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL

 

Portsmouth High School

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

PRESIDENT: Now, before I start taking questions, let me just say there's been a long and vigorous debate about this, and that's how it should be. That's what America is about, is we have a vigorous debate. That's why we have a democracy. But I do hope that we will talk with each other and not over each other -- (applause) -- because one of the objectives of democracy and debate is, is that we start refining our own views because maybe other people have different perspectives, things we didn't think of.

 

Where we do disagree, let's disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that's actually been proposed. (Applause.) Because the way politics works sometimes is that people who want to keep things the way they are will try to scare the heck out of folks and they'll create boogeymen out there that just aren't real. (Applause.)

 

So this is an important and complicated issue that deserves serious debate. And we have months to go before we're done, and years after that to phase in all these reforms and get them right. And I know this: Despite all the hand-wringing pundits and the best efforts of those who are profiting from the status quo, we are closer to achieving health insurance reform than we have ever been. We have the American Nurses Association supporting us. (Applause.) We have the American Medical Association on board. (Applause.)

 

America's doctors and nurses know firsthand how badly we need reform. We have broad agreement in Congress on about 80 percent of what we're trying to do. We have an agreement from the drug companies to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. We can cut the doughnut hole in half if we pass reform. (Applause.) We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors. (Applause.)

 

But let's face it, now is the hard part -- because the history is clear -- every time we come close to passing health insurance reform, the special interests fight back with everything they've got. They use their influence. They use their political allies to scare and mislead the American people. They start running ads. This is what they always do.

 

We can't let them do it again. Not this time. Not now. (Applause.) Because for all the scare tactics out there, what is truly scary -- what is truly risky -- is if we do nothing. If we let this moment pass -- if we keep the system the way it is right now -- we will continue to see 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every day. Your premiums will continue to skyrocket. They have gone up three times faster than your wages and they will keep on going up.

 

Our deficit will continue to grow because Medicare and Medicaid are on an unsustainable path. Medicare is slated to go into the red in about eight to 10 years. I don't know if people are aware of that. If I was a senior citizen, the thing I'd be worried about right now is Medicare starts running out of money because we haven't done anything to make sure that we're getting a good bang for our buck when it comes to health care. And insurance companies will continue to profit by discriminating against people for the simple crime of being sick. Now, that's not a future I want for my children. It's not a future that I want for the United States of America.

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Guest LAW

Excerpt 3:

 

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

IN HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TOWN HALL

Cont.

 

Portsmouth High School

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I've worked in the medical field for about 18 years and seen a lot of changes over those 18 years. I currently work here at the high school as a paraprofessional. I have a little, you know, couple questions about the universal insurance program, which, if I understand you correctly, President Obama, you seek to cover 50 million new people over and above the amount of people that are currently getting health care at this moment.

 

THE PRESIDENT: It will probably -- I just want to be honest here. There are about 46 million people who are uninsured. And under the proposals that we have, even if you have an individual mandate, probably only about 37-38 million, so somewhere in that ballpark.

 

Q Okay, I'm off a little bit. (Laughter.)

 

THE PRESIDENT: No, no, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't over-selling my plan here.

 

Q That's okay, Mr. President. (Laughter.)

 

THE PRESIDENT: She's okay --

 

Q He winked at me. (Laughter.) My concern is for where are we going to get the doctors and nurses to cover these? Right now I know that there's a really -- people are not going to school to become teachers to teach the nursing staffs. Doctors have huge capacities; some of them are leaving private to go to administrative positions because of the caseload that they're being made to hold. I really do feel that there will be more demand with this universal health care and no added supply. I also understand that it was to be taken from Medicare, about $500 billion -- correct me if I'm wrong on that.

 

THE PRESIDENT: I just said that.

 

Q Okay. Also, you know, I'm very, very concerned about the elderly. I don't know if this is also correct, but I understand that a federal health board will sit in judgment of medical procedures and protocols to impose guidelines on all providers -- when to withhold certain types of care -- like, what is the point you get to when we say, I'm sorry that this cannot happen. Thank you very much for letting me ask those questions, Mr. President.

 

THE PRESIDENT: Of course. Well, first of all, I already mentioned that we would be taking savings out of Medicare that are currently going to insurance subsidies, for example. So that is absolutely true.

 

I just want to be clear, again: Seniors who are listening here, this does not affect your benefits. This is not money going to you to pay for your benefits; this is money that is subsidizing folks who don't need it. So that's point number one.

 

Point number two: In terms of these expert health panels -- well, this goes to the point about "death panels" -- that's what folks are calling them. The idea is actually pretty straightforward, which is if we've got a panel of experts, health experts, doctors, who can provide guidelines to doctors and patients about what procedures work best in what situations, and find ways to reduce, for example, the number of tests that people take -- these aren't going to be forced on people, but they will help guide how the delivery system works so that you are getting higher-quality care. And it turns out that oftentimes higher-quality care actually costs less.

So let me just take the example of testing. Right now, a lot of Medicare patients -- you have something wrong with you, you go to your doctor, doctor checks up on you, maybe he takes -- has a test, he administers a test. You go back home, you get the results, the doctor calls you and says, okay, now you got to go to this specialist. Then you have to take another trip to the specialist. The specialist doesn't have the first test, so he does his own test. Then maybe you've got to, when you go to the hospital, you've got to take a third test.

 

Now, each time taxpayers, under Medicare, are paying for that test. So for a panel of experts to say, why don't we have all the specialists and the doctors communicating after the first test and let's have electronic medical records so that we can forward the results of that first test to the others -- (applause) -- that's a sensible thing to do. That is a sensible thing to do.

 

So we want -- if I'm a customer, if I'm a consumer and I know that I'm overpaying $6,000 for anything else, I would immediately want the best deal. But for some reason, in health care, we continue to put up with getting a bad deal. We’re paying $6,000 more than any other advanced country and we're not healthier for it -- $6,000 per person more, per year. That doesn’t make any sense. So there's got to be a lot of waste in the system. And the idea is to have doctors, nurses, medical experts look for it.

 

Now, the last question that you asked is very important and I don't have a simple solution to this. If you look at the makeup of the medical profession right now, we have constant nurses shortages and we have severe shortages of primary care physicians. Primary care physicians, ideally family physicians, they should be the front lines of the medical profession in encouraging prevention and wellness. (Applause.) But the problem is, is that primary care physicians, they make a lot less money than specialists --

 

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And nurse practitioners.

 

THE PRESIDENT: And nurse practitioners, too. (Applause.) And nurses, you've got a whole other issue which you already raised, which is the fact that not only are nurses not paid as well as they should, but you also have -- nursing professors are paid even worse than nurses. So as a consequence, you don't have enough professors to teach nursing, which means that's part of the reason why you've got such a shortage of nurses.

 

So we are going to be taking steps, as part of reform, to deal with expanding primary care physicians and our nursing corps. On the doctors' front, one of the things we can do is to reimburse doctors who are providing preventive care and not just the surgeon who provides care after somebody is sick. (Applause.) Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons -- I don't want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I'm not dissing surgeons here. (Laughter.)

 

All I'm saying is let's take the example of something like diabetes, one of --- a disease that's skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it's not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now if we paid a family -- if a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they're taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that's $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 -- immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. Well, why not make sure that we're also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation, right? That will save us money. (Applause.)

 

So changing reimbursement rates will help. The other thing that will really help both nurses and doctors, helping pay for medical education for those who are willing to go into primary care. And that's something that we already started to do under the Recovery Act, and we want to do more of that under health care reform. (Applause.)

 

All right, last question, last question right here. This is a skeptic, right?

 

Q I am a skeptic.

 

THE PRESIDENT: Good.

 

Q Thank you, Mr. President, for coming to Portsmouth. My name is Michael Layon (ph). I'm from Derry, New Hampshire, District 1 in the congressional district. I'm one of the people that turned myself in on the White House Web page the other day for being a skeptic of this bill. I'm proud to have done so.

 

THE PRESIDENT: Before you ask this question, just because you referred to it, can I just say this is another example of how the media ends up just completing distorting what's taken place. What we've said is that if somebody has -- if you get an e-mail from somebody that says, for example, "Obamacare is creating a death panel," forward us the e-mail and we will answer the question that's raised in the e-mail. Suddenly, on some of these news outlets, this is being portrayed as "Obama collecting an enemies list." (Laughter.)

 

Now, come on, guys. You know, here I am trying to be responsive to questions that are being raised out there --

 

Q And appreciate it. (Applause.)

 

THE PRESIDENT: And I just want to be clear that all we're trying to do is answer questions.

 

All right, go ahead.

 

Q So my question is for you, and I know in the White House the stand which you're on has often been referred to as the bully pulpit. Why have you not used the bully pulpit to chastise Congress for having two systems of health care -- one for all of us, and one for them? (Applause.)

 

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, first of all, if we don't have health care reform, the gap between what Congress gets and what ordinary Americans get will continue to be as wide as it is right now. And you are absolutely right -- I don't think Carol or Paul would deny they've got a pretty good deal. They've got a pretty good deal. I mean, the fact is, is that they are part -- by the way, I want you to know, though, their deal is no better than the janitor who cleans their offices; because they are part of a federal health care employee plan, it is a huge pool. So you've got millions of people who are part of the pool, which means they've got enormous leverage with the insurance companies, right? So they can negotiate the same way that a big Fortune 500 company can negotiate, and that drives down their costs -- they get a better deal.

 

Now, what happens is, those members of Congress -- and when I was a senator, same situation -- I could, at the beginning of the year, look at a menu of a variety of different health care options, most of them -- these are all private plans or they could be non-for-profit, Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Aetna, or what have you -- they would have these plans that were offered. And then we would then select what plan worked best for us.

 

But there were certain requirements -- if you wanted to sell insurance to federal employees there were certain things you had to do. You had to cover certain illnesses. You couldn't exclude for preexisting conditions. I mean, there were a lot of rules that had been negotiated by the federal government for those workers.

 

Now, guess what. That's exactly what we want to do with health care reform. (Applause.) We want to make sure that you are getting that same kind of option. That's what the health exchange is all about, is that you -- just like a member of Congress -- can go and choose the plan that's right for you. You don't have to. If you've got health care that you like, you don't have to use it.

 

So for example, for a while, Michelle, my wife, worked at the University of Chicago Hospital. She really liked her coverage that she was getting through the University of Chicago Hospital, so I did not have to use the federal employee plan. But I had that option available.

 

The same is true for you. Nobody is going to force you to be part of that plan. But if you look at it and you say, you know what, this is a good deal and I've got more leverage because maybe I'm a small business or maybe I'm self-employed, or maybe I'm like Lori and nobody will take me because of a preexisting condition, and now suddenly got these rules set up -- why wouldn't I want to take advantage of that?

 

Now, there are legitimate concerns about the cost of the program, so I understand if you just think no matter what, no matter how good the program is, you don't think that we should be paying at all for additional people to be covered, then you're probably going to be against health care reform and I can't persuade you. There are legitimate concerns about the public option -- the gentleman who raised his hand. I think it's a good idea, but I understand some people just philosophically think that if you set up a public option, that that will drive public insurance out -- or private insurers out. I think that's a legitimate concern. I disagree with it, but that's a legitimate debate to have.

 

But I want everybody to understand, though, the status quo is not working for you. (Applause.) The status quo is not working for you. And if we can set up a system, which I believe we can, that gives you options, just like members of Congress has options; that gives a little bit of help to people who currently are working hard every day but they don't have health care insurance on the job; and most importantly, if we can make sure that you, all of you who have insurance, which is probably 80 or 90 percent of you, that you are not going to be dropped because of a preexisting condition, or because you lose your job, or because you change your job -- that you're actually going to get what you paid for, that you're not going to find out when you're sick that you got cheated, that you're not going to hit a lifetime cap where you thought you were paying for insurance but after a certain amount suddenly you're paying out of pocket and bankrupting yourself and your family -- if we can set up a system that gives you some security, that's worth a lot.

 

And this is the best chance we've ever had to do that. But we're all going to have to come together, we're going to have to make it happen. I am confident we can do so, but I'm going to need your help, New Hampshire.

 

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)

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Guest ALWAYS RED

My question is why has Obama flip flopped from the single payer system that he supported?

 

He told that New Hampshire audience that he has never claimed to be an advocate of a single-payer health care system, alleging that his Republican opponents were employing “scare tactics” to derail substantive health care reform.

 

His words seem to be different last August.

 

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Guest LAW

Here is an excerpt of the President defining the single-payer system.

 

NEWS CONFERENCE

BY THE PRESIDENT

 

East Room

July 22,2009

 

THE PRESIDENT: I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that unless you have a what's called a single-payer system in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual, because there's always going to be somebody out there who thinks they're indestructible and doesn't want to get health care, doesn't bother getting health care, and then unfortunately when they get hit by a bus end up in the emergency room and the rest of us have to pay for it.

 

But that's not the overwhelming majority of Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans want health care, but millions of them can't afford it. So the plan that has been -- that I've put forward and that what we're seeing in Congress would cover -- the estimates are at least 97 to 98 percent of Americans.

 

There might still be people left out there who, even though there's an individual mandate, even though they are required to purchase health insurance, might still not get it, or despite a lot of subsidies are still in such dire straits that it's still hard for them to afford it, and we may end up giving them some sort of hardship exemption.

 

But -- I'm sorry, go ahead -- so I think that the basic idea should be that in this country, if you want health care, you should be able to get affordable health care.

 

And given the waste that's already in the system right now, if we just redesign certain elements of health care, then we can pay for that. We can pay for it in the short term, but we can also pay for it in the long term. And, in fact, there's going to be a whole lot of savings that we obtain from that because, for example, the average American family is paying thousands of dollars in hidden costs in their insurance premiums to pay for what's called uncompensated care -- people who show up at the emergency room because they don't have a primary care physician.

 

If we can get those people insured, and instead of having a foot amputation because of advanced diabetes they're getting a nutritionist who's working with them to make sure that they are keeping their diet where it needs to be, that's going to save us all money in the long term.

 

Q Back to the politics of it. You mentioned two Republicans in your opening statement, but you have 60 Democratic seats, a healthy majority in the House. If you don't get this, isn't this a fight inside the Democratic Party, and that Republicans really aren't playing -- you can't really blame the Republicans for this one?

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Guest Dick Morris

I am writing to you to ask for your help in what might be the most important fight of our lives - defeating Obama's plans to destroy our health care system in America

 

Time is running out, so let me get right to the point: Barack Obama and his liberal allies are on the verge of implementing a socialist takeover of one-seventh of the U.S. economy.

 

It's as simple as that.

 

But there's still some hope.

 

Right now, we have a very brief window of opportunity while Congress is on vacation this month.

 

It is extremely urgent that you contact your senators and representatives immediately and let them know how you feel about Obama's plan.

 

It is also important to keep reading this letter, as there are other things you can do to stop Obama's plan.

 

This may be our last chance.

 

When they return in September, Congress will vote on Obama's health care plans.

 

So, please make sure there is no confusion about how you feel - and let them know that you'll be holding them accountable.

 

Help the League of American Voters hold Congress accountable - Click Here Now

 

The price of the health care proposal is staggering. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost will be at least $1.6 trillion! There is no way that our health care costs - and our taxes - won't soar.

 

Proposals to tax the wealthy, tax employer health care benefits that we already receive, tax insurance companies, tax employers, and even tax the middle class are being discussed. Some combination of them will be required to pay for this audacious program.

 

But the real problem is not just the cost. The real problem is that the Obama/Democratic plan will destroy your private health care at the same time it destroys the current Medicare system.

 

Here's why.

 

Both the Senate and House plans call for immediately adding almost 50 million new patients - including 12 million illegal aliens - to government medical care without adding any new doctors or nurses!

 

How can the existing 800,000 doctors in the U.S. possibly absorb this exorbitant number of new patients while still caring for their existing patients?

 

They can't - there's no question about it!

 

As I point out in my new book, Catastrophe, that's why the rationing of health care will be inevitable.

 

Without rationing, the program cannot succeed.

 

That's why the Obama/Democratic plan intends that faceless unaccountable bureaucrats, not doctors, will be deciding who gets what care.

 

Canada has such a system. Patients there spend months waiting for MRI's, appointments with specialists, and much-needed chemotherapy and surgeries.

 

And in some cases, medical care is simply denied.

 

Here's how it will work under the Obama plan: if you're old and near death, you probably won't have access to the full spectrum of medical services that are currently available to you, In fact, a good part of the time, you will never even see a doctor.

 

The elderly - especially those who need Medicare - and the sickest will suffer the most under this plan as government bureaucrats need to cut more and more services to accommodate the millions of new people in the government health system.

 

Instead of the Medicare services that we know, care for the elderly will dramatically change.

 

This means, for example, if your are over 70 and a government bureaucrat believes the public should not invest in a life-saving heart procedure because you are too old and it is too expensive - he can make that decision!

 

Don't believe it?

 

Well, it's exactly how they do rationing in Britain and Canada. The bureaucrats decide whether you will live or die.

 

Obama's plan is nothing more than a clever ruse to eventually abolish private health care in America.

 

The Obama plan calls for offering every citizen and business the option of joining the "public option" - the government subsidized health care system.

 

Obama has claimed under his plan you still "keep your doctor, you keep your insurer."

 

That's baloney.

 

Under the Obama plan, any business will be permitted to opt to transfer ALL of their employees into the public, government run system.

 

And once in, you never get out!

 

I have no doubt that many businesses and individuals will opt for the system, because healthy people usually chose the cheaper system.

 

The public option, subsidized with your tax dollars, will be much cheaper than private insurers.

 

As healthy people and businesses leave private insurers - which they will do in droves - private insurers will find their base of healthy payers dwindle. This may cause insurance companies to go out of business.

 

Obama Care will hurt small businesses. Already, the House bill requires employers with a payroll of $400,000 to pay for health insurance for all employees, including part time workers. This will be an enormous burden.

 

We need to stop Obama's takeover of health care and we can!

 

Weeks ago, Obama thought he could roll up Democrats in the House and Senate, and have his plan by August 1st. But August 1st came and went. Now, his new plan is to rush it through as soon as Congress returns.

 

Don't let that happen! We need to target the key decision makers.

 

Democrats, especially "blue dog" moderates, are scared to death about the Obama health care plan.

 

They know it's dangerous.

 

They know voters will be repulsed by it.

 

That's why it's absolutely critical we get the word out about Obama Care.

 

President Obama is trying to intimidate voters from expressing their views about this crucial issue.

 

The White House recently asked that people forward to it any "suspicious" emails attacking the health care program. Don't be intimidated. Contact your members of Congress and confront them with the serious flaws in the Democratic bills. Go to any forums that are held in your district.

 

And there's more that we can all do.

 

Recently, I worked with the League of American Voters, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating American voters about the threat posed by Obama Care.

It was put together a powerful television ad that I helped create, featuring a respected neurosurgeon, who explains the threat Obama Care poses to all Americans, especially seniors.

 

The League of American Voters needs to air this TV ad in key states in the coming weeks.

 

Americans need to see this ad all over the place. Congressmen and senators need to see this ad and hear about it.

 

I believe this is just the first step in turning back Obama Care.

 

The League of American Voters needs your urgent help today.

 

There are 40 Democratic congressmen who are from districts John McCain won in the last election.

 

They may listen carefully to what their constituents are saying. We especially need to let the voters in those districts know exactly what their member of Congress is doing in Washington.

 

Please help. Don't delay!

 

You can also see the League's new powerful TV ad expose Obama Care.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdgeSw3QqYk

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Dick Morris

 

P.S. As I write this, there are 40 Democratic congressmen who are from districts John McCain won in the last election. We especially need to let the voters in these districts know what their congressman are doing in Washington.

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Guest LAW

August 11, 2009

 

PRESS GAGGLE BY

PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS

 

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Q Do you think the President is winning the message war? And if you feel like he is winning that war, how do you know?

 

MR. GIBBS: Look, I think we are continually trying to let people know what this means to them. There's a lot of noise. I think about -- take, for instance, the whole debate about supposed euthanasia. Did you see the interview that the Washington Post's Ezra Klein did with Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson? Look, this is somebody who helped to author on the Senate side a similar provision as is in the House side.

 

Is there a constant struggle because you guys would rather cover Sarah Palin saying something that Johnny Isakson says is nuts? Sure, there's always a struggle in that. But for 40 years this has been tough going because there are a group of people -- we hear them, we seem them now -- that are for the same status quo; they're for the special interests that are making billions and billions and trillions of dollars on a system that works well for them, but not for millions and millions of Americans -- they want to keep that.

 

Our challenge each and every day is to go out and make sure people understand that doing nothing costs the American people more in health care -- more in health care spending; it makes our budgetary problems worse; it causes people to lose their coverage and lose their doctor. And we can change all that.

 

Q Governor Palin's comments actually help the White House in some way, don't they, by being a shiny object that distracts from the actual debate?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, I don't think we want a distraction from the debate. I mean, I think it's -- it helps in the sense that I don't think -- I think they serve to make a certain segment of charges outlandish, there's no doubt about that. But I think we'd all be served better if the coverage of that was less about the personality of the former governor and more about the fact that even Republicans think what she said isn't true.

 

And I think a lot of what the President will try to do throughout the next several days is make sure people understand what's really being talked about, what's really being debated, rather than have this all focused down on to a few seconds of a sound bite based on information that's just not true and that, quite frankly, I think most people that talk about it know it's not true.

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Guest Senator Johnny Isakson

Isakson Denounces White House Comments Connecting Him

To Terribly Flawed House Health Care Bill

 

'This Is What Happens When the President and Members of Congress Don’t Read the Bills'

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today denounced comments made by President Obama and his spokesman regarding Isakson’s alleged connection to language contained in the House health care bill on “end-of-life counseling.”

 

Isakson vehemently opposes the House and Senate health care bills and he played no role in drafting language added to the House bill by House Democrats calling for the government to incentivize doctors by offering them money to conduct “end-of-life counseling” with Medicare patients every five years. Isakson also strongly opposed the House bill language calling for doctors to follow a government-mandated list of topics to discuss with patients during the counseling sessions.

 

By contrast, Isakson took a very different approach in July during the Senate HELP Committee hearings on the Senate version of the health care bill. Isakson’s amendment to the Senate bill says that anyone who participates in the long-term care benefit provided in the bill – if they so choose – may use that benefit to obtain assistance in formulating their own living will and durable power of attorney.

 

Isakson’s amendment, which was accepted unanimously by all Republicans and Democrats on the Senate HELP Committee, empowers the individual to make their own choices on these critical issues, rather than the government incentivizing doctors to conduct counseling on government-mandated topics. Isakson ultimately voted against the Senate health care bill.

 

“This is what happens when the President and members of Congress don’t read the bills. The White House and others are merely attempting to deflect attention from the intense negativity caused by their unpopular policies. I never consulted with the White House in this process and had no role whatsoever in the House Democrats’ bill. I categorically oppose the House bill and find it incredulous that the White House and others would use my amendment as a scapegoat for their misguided policies,” Isakson said. “My Senate amendment simply puts health care choices back in the hands of the individual and allows them to consider if they so choose a living will or durable power of attorney. The House provision is merely another ill-advised attempt at more government mandates, more government intrusion, and more government involvement in what should be an individual choice.”

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Guest LAW

August 12, 2009

 

PRESS BRIEFING BY

PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS

 

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

 

Q Senator Isakson put out a statement yesterday, also taking issue with what the President describes as his position and his involvement in the end-of-life legislation in the House. Do you want to amend or correct anything the President said, or you said about that? Because Mr. Isakson has a completely different interpretation than the President used and you used yesterday. He didn't have -- he had no role in the House legislation. He opposes the language in the House --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I didn't say -- let's take what I've talked about on the back of the plane. Let me just read what -- let me just read the question, a series of questions and answers from Senator Isakson: "How did this become a question of euthanasia?" Senator Isakson: "I have no idea. I understand, and you have to check this out, I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's Web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end-of-life directive, or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up."

 

Question two: "You're saying this is not a question of government, it's for individuals?" Senator Isakson: "It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time, rather than having the government make them for you."

 

Question three: "The policy here, as I understand it, is that Medicare would cover a counseling session with your doctor on end-of-life options." Senator Isakson: "Correct. And it's a voluntary deal."

 

Q I believe those are answers in response to his amendment in the HELP bill, not the longer and more defined involvement of these end-of-life panels that's in the House bill. That's how it's been explained to me by his people, so I'm just wondering if --

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I would ask them, those people to interpret: "I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's Web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it, where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end-of-life directive or a living will as that is nuts." Not my words. His.

 

Q Right, I understand. But what the President talked about yesterday was saying that Senator Isakson had some role in helping to craft or developed the House legislation --

 

MR. GIBBS: I think what the President mentioned --

 

Q -- implying that he supported it. And I'm just saying that Senator Isakson denies that he had any role and he doesn’t support it.

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I don't think that's what the President was implying. I think the President mentioned that Mr. Isakson had been in the House -- that may have been some of the confusion. He was a member of -- did, obviously, represent Atlanta suburbs before becoming a U.S. senator from Georgia.

 

I think, again, what the President was trying to say was, in a question about some of the misinformation, asked specifically about euthanasia and death panels, and I think -- and I said this also in the back of the plane yesterday -- I think what Senator Isakson says in addressing that misinformation could not be more clear, that for someone to take, as he says, talked about the House bill -- his words, not mine -- "having death panels on it where people would be euthanized, how somebody could come up with that" -- and roughly paraphrasing -- in that sense is nuts.

 

Q Right. And I'm not trying to beat this into the ground, but he doesn't support the language in the House bill. You can have differences over --

 

MR. GIBBS: No, no, I understand. What I'm saying is I think there may be some confusion --

 

Q -- of end-of-life counseling is and be clear to understand that neither of them calls for anything approaching euthanasia --

 

MR. GIBBS: I think the one thing that --

 

Q Setting that aside for a second --

 

MR. GIBBS: I mean, again, one thing that --

 

Q -- he doesn't back the House language, had no role in it, and believes that yesterday there was comments from the President that indicated that --

 

MR. GIBBS: I certainly didn't read it that way and I don't think my comments --

 

Q Should be interpreted that way.

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, I didn't say that, to interpret it that way would be nuts. But --

 

Q He's too sensitive about this?

 

MR. GIBBS: Again, I read what he said in an interview that was posted on WashingtonPost.com yesterday. I think if you go back and look at some amendments that he's offered and cosponsored --

 

Q He -- (inaudible) --

 

MR. GIBBS: Right, but this -- he's offered and cosponsored other amendments with Senator Rockefeller in dealing with this. I think -- whether this is uncomfortable or not, I think he and the President agree.

 

Yes, sir.

 

Q Thank you, Robert.

 

Q I want to go back to the earlier question about the AARP. What he actually said was "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare." What exactly -- how did he -- can you explain to me how he misspoke and what he meant to say?

 

MR. GIBBS: I think, again, what he's conflating is, one -- and I think if you ask AARP this -- they have been supportive of comprehensive health care reform for a long time. They have not, as they said, endorsed a specific piece of legislation. They are supportive of health care reform and they are supportive of an agreement that the Finance Committee and pharmaceutical manufacturers have entered into that the White House agrees with that would use $80 billion to partially fill with reduced-price prescription drugs 50 percent of the doughnut hole that seniors fall into at a certain level as part of Medicare Part D, as well as some of that additional money for savings in comprehensive health care reform.

 

Q But he left the impression, twice, to anyone, at least to me, sitting in the town hall meeting that Medicare -- that AARP supported this and he needed it to rebut the questions about Medicare benefits would be cut. So is he going to not do that in future town halls?

 

MR. GIBBS: Well, the President is going to continue to say the bill doesn't cut Medicare benefits. I think, again, the President was talking about the agreement structured with the Finance Committee and the pharmaceutical manufacturers.

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Guest 40oz2Freedom

How are we the wealthiest nation on earth? Were fraking broke! Have you heard of that large number called a DEFICIT?! In a free country, you have every right to succeed as you do to fail. I enjoy health insurance because I got off my lazy ass and got a fraking job. Entitlement systems like healthcare only promote individuals to become even lazier. Perhaps if we didn't hand out unemployment checks, those people would go get a job, just maybe.

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