President Obama said Tuesday that he is willing to work with Republicans to help address the “huge problems” of high Medicare and Medicaid spending, but said that all sides are going to have to compromise on the matter.
Here’s a partial transcript of Obama’s comments:
Medicare and Medicaid are huge problems because health care costs are risingeven as the population is getting older. So what I’ve said is that I’m prepared to work with Democrats and Republicans to start dealing with that in a serious way. We made a down payment on that with health care reform last year, that’s part of what health care reform was about. The projected deficits are going to be about $250 billion lower over the next 10 years than they otherwise would have been because of health care reform. And they’ll be a $1 trillion lower than they otherwise would have been if we hadn’t done health care reform for the following decade. But we’re still going to have to do more, so what I’ve said is that if you look at the history of how these deals get done, typically it’s not because there’s an Obama plan out there, it’s because Democrats and Republicans are both committed to tackling this issue in a serious way.
If we think it’s important that our senior citizens continue to enjoy health care in their golden years – that costs money. My hope is that what’s different this time is we have an adult conversation where everybody says ‘Here’s what’s important and here’s how we’re going to pay for it.’ Now, there are going to be some significant disagreements about what people think is important and that’s how Democracy should work. And, at the margins, I think, that I’ll end up having to compromise on some things, hopefully others will have that same spirit.
If we’re cutting infant formula to poor kids, is that who we are as a people? I mean, we’re going to have to have those debates. Particularly if it turns out that making those cuts doesn’t really make a big dent in the long-term deficits, then I think the American people may conclude ‘Let’s have a more balanced approach.’ But that’s what we’re going to be talking about over the next couple months, as I said, I know everybody would like to see it resolved today, it probably will not be.