This morning the President, Speaker Pelosi, and Leadership from the House of Representatives emerged from a meeting together with a new target on moving forward with health reform: pass legislation through the House by July 31st. The President spoke to the press
after the Speaker in the South Drive at the Oval Office, telling them that "this is a gorgeous day and an encouraging day":
On health care, as Speaker Pelosi just mentioned, the House is working to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill by July 31st, before they head out for the August recess. And that's the kind of urgency and determination that we need to achieve what I believe will be historic legislation.
As I've said before, and as all Americans know, our health care system is broken. It's unsustainable for families, for businesses. It is unsustainable for the federal government and state governments.
We've had a lot of discussions in this town about deficits and people across the political spectrum like to throw barbs back and forth about debt and deficits. The fact of the matter is the most significant driver by far of our long-term debt and our long-term deficits is ever-escalating health care costs. And if we don't reform how health care is delivered in this country, then we are not going to be able to get a handle on that.
Now, in addition to the implications for the federal budget, obviously we're also thinking about the millions of American families out there who are struggling to pay premiums that have doubled over the last decade -- rising four times the rate of their wages -- and 46 million Americans who don't have any health insurance at all.
(President Barack Obama meets with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Education and Labor Committee Chair Rep. George Miller, in the Oval Office Wednesday, May 13, 2009. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman, and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Charlie Rangel also attended the meeting but are not in the photo.Official White house Photo by Pete Souza.)
The President also re-emphasized the necessity of getting final legislation passed by both the House and the Senate and signed this year. In closing, the President laid out his basic principles:
In the coming weeks and months, I believe that the House and Senate will be engaged in a difficult issue, and I'm committed to building a transparent process to get this moving. But whatever plans emerge, both from the House and the Senate, I do believe that they've got to uphold three basic principles: first, that the rising cost of health care has to be brought down; second, that Americans have to be able to choose their own doctor and their own plan; and third, all Americans have to have quality, affordable health care.
UPDATE: The President also just sent out his first email to those who have signed up for updates here at WhiteHouse.gov. If you have not signed up yet, do so here
to get alerts on health care and other important issues. Read today’s email below:
You are receiving this email because you signed up at WhiteHouse.gov. My staff and I plan to use these messages as a way to directly communicate about important issues and opportunities, and today I have some encouraging updates about health care reform.
The Vice President and I just met with leaders from the House of Representatives and received their commitment to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill by July 31.
We also have an unprecedented commitment from health care industry leaders, many of whom opposed health reform in the past. Monday, I met with some of these health care stakeholders, and they pledged to do their part to reduce the health care spending growth rate, saving more than two trillion dollars over the next ten years -- around $2,500 for each American family. Then on Tuesday, leaders from some of America's top companies came to the White House to showcase innovative ways to reduce health care costs by improving the health of their workers.
Now the House and Senate are beginning a critical debate that will determine the health of our nation's economy and its families. This process should be transparent and inclusive and its product must drive down costs, assure quality and affordable health care for everyone, and guarantee all of us a choice of doctors and plans.
Reforming health care should also involve you. Think of other people who may want to stay up to date on health care reform and other national issues and tell them to join us here:
Health care reform can't come soon enough. We spend more on health care than any country, but families continue to struggle with skyrocketing premiums and nearly 46 million are without insurance entirely. It is a priority for the American people and a pillar of the new foundation we are seeking to build for our economy.
We'll continue to keep you posted about this and other important issues.
P.S. If you'd like to get more in-depth information about health reform and how you can participate, be sure to visit http://www.HealthReform.gov