Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper
July 17, 2009 5:13 PM
ABC News' Yunji de Nies, Sunlen Miller and Sarah Tobianski Report: President Barack Obama called cameras to the Diplomatic Room this afternoon for an unannounced statement on health care reform. His message was a mix of outreach and admonition: Health care reform must happen, and it will, he declared, this year.
"Those who are betting against this happening this year are badly mistaken," he said.
The president adopted a stern tone, warning that if reform doesn't pass, generations to come will suffer from sky rocketing costs, and the country as a whole would be at risk.
"If we don't get health-care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure, because you're going to continue to see premiums going up at astronomical rates, out-of-pocket costs going up at astronomical rates, and people who lose their jobs or have a preexisting medical condition or changing their jobs finding themselves in a situation where they cannot get health care," he said.
The president accused "Washington" of being overly focused on the 24-hour news cycle, a news cycle that has clearly been focused on the roadblocks health care reform has continued to stumble upon as the debate heats up on Capitol Hill. Obama touted what he believes is significant progress, including the recent endorsement of the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.
The president again explained what he believes health care reform will mean to the "average American."
"It will mean lower costs, more choices, and coverage you can count on. It will save you and your family money. You won't have to worry about being priced out of the market. You won't have to worry about one illness leading to your family going into financial ruin," he said, "Americans will have coverage that finally has stability and security. And Americans who don't have health insurance will finally have affordable, quality options."
Obama then got to the heart of the conflict: cost. He again vowed that the measure would be deficit neutral. A point he clearly thought so important, he emphasized it twice.
"I've said that health-insurance reform cannot add to our deficit over the next decade. And I mean it. Let me repeat: Health- insurance reform cannot add to our deficit over the next decade. And I mean it," he said.
The president explained that his goal is to provide the best care, not necessarily the most expensive care. In an effort to keep Medicare costs in line, Obama wants to create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts, who would send annual cost cutting suggestions to Congress. Such a group already exists, but the president said often those suggestions are not acted upon.
Obama concluded his remarks by saying he was "confident" that the work isn't over.
"There are going to be a lot more sleepless nights. But eventually this is going to happen," he said.
He then left the room, taking no questions.