Promoting Healthcare Reform, Obama Admits US Can't Insure All Americans Without Single Payer

July 23, 2009


President Barack Hussein Obama

speaking at the White House

Obama devoted most of his White House news conference to defend his push for healthcare reform. He acknowledged the US won’t be able to provide healthcare insurance to every American without adopting single payer, which his administration has opposed. [includes rush transcript]


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Much of the President’s news conference focused on healthcare. This is NBC’s Chuck Todd.

    CHUCK TODD: Is it fair to say — is this bill going to cover all 47 million Americans that are uninsured, or is this going to be something — is it going to take a mandate, or is this something that isn’t — your bill is probably not going to get it all the way there? And if it’s not going to get all the way there, can you say how far is enough? You know, OK, 20 million more, I can sign that; 10 million more, I can’t?

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to cover everybody. Now, the truth is that unless you have a — what’s called a single-payer system, in which everybody’s 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 healthcare, doesn’t bother getting healthcare, 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 healthcare, 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.

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