July 29th, 2009
05:07 PM ET

A Health Care Q&A with Pres. Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/06/18/ep.health.reform.basics/art.obama.ama.gi.jpg caption="Overhauling health care is key to U.S. economic stability, President Obama tells doctors Monday."]

Karen Tumulty

TIME senior writer Karen Tumulty sat down with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon to talk about his work both in public and behind the scenes to push a health-care-reform measure through Congress. Here's an excerpt of the full transcript, which will be published on TIME.com on July 30.

TIME: So how much of your day are you spending on this?

President Obama: Well, I think over the last two, three weeks I'd say I'm spending at least a third of my day focused on it. Now, that can manifest itself in different ways. Certainly we spend a lot of time with our health-care team talking both policy and politics. I'm reaching out to members of Congress, meeting with them or talking to them on the phone to get their perspectives. Speaking to the public is absolutely critical, and so today, for example, I was over at AARP trying to answer questions of the public. So whenever we're in the middle of a big legislative effort like this, it's going to attract a lot of my attention, as well as my team's attention.

Well, of all the big decisions that you've made strategically, one of the most important was really to lay out the broad principles and let Congress figure out how to get there. Could you talk to me a little bit about how and when you made that decision, and why you decided, because there are a lot of people right now on Capitol Hill who are saying, We need more from him; he's got to tell us what — where his bright red lines are on this.

The truth is we've actually, I think, provided more guidance than has been advertised. I mean, if you think about how we've moved this forward, we didn't simply put out some broad principles; we were fairly specific.


Filed under: Health Care • President Barack Obama
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Joanne R. Pacicca

    No matter how you slice it, inject partisanship or racism into the conversation, the main issue is how to pay for this health plan and how to administer the plan. It could be efficient; however, that would certainly be in contrast to Medicare, Medicaid and the USPS.

    July 30, 2009 at 9:34 am |
  2. Patsy Salland

    I wish all reporters would PLEASE ask -This question first, to all politicians, " tell us about YOUR medical coverage" "how much do you pay"? "what and whom does it cover and for how long"?? and who pays for it?

    Universal Healthcare: As Congress & Senate vote on Universal Healthcare lets Take away their Universal coverage, That we pay for, then we'll see how they Vote!

    July 30, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  3. RLWellman

    You who think the President is going to help you, are you that blind? You actually think he is worried about you? He is tearing down the economy and making it so everyone has to rely on the Government.

    Maybe that's what you liberals want. You don't have to work and the Government will take care of you. Maybe that's what you want, however the majority of the United States will not pay for you!

    July 30, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  4. truthislove45

    Over 80 percent of people are happy with their health plans. Yet in order too pass his plan he uses word play too gain favor too rob people of their liberties. They say over 40 million people don't have health care. How many of these are illegal? They would have people believe they care. DO NOT BE DUPED! This isn't about caring for people this is about exploiting peoples fears. His speeches are soo scripted to tickle peoples ears, telling them what they want to hear. Your premiums will go down, you won't loose your health care plans. If people desire too be charitable that must come from their hearts not because of being conived by gov. This is so utterly ridiculous, its sad too see people falling prey to his devoid of truth speeches! If you knew the ways of a player you would see Obama for he is. Do you think he would be wanting too talk to that cop, if people didn't react to his comment. This man is a poll reactor, not a man of insight. If most of society applauded his comment he wouldn't there wouldn't be talk of a beer summit. How lame, clearly this society has become soo shallow too speak of a beer summit. Obama does what is politically expedient, not what is right in Gods eyes. Woe too those who call evil good! The sooner you seek Jesus Christ people, the sooner you will see the wicked schemes!

    July 30, 2009 at 6:09 am |
  5. truthislove45

    Ask him why he doesn't lug the more then 1000 page "chump change" bill with him? Or if he even has read it. Why not read it line for line at your pub lic praise the celebrity meetings. Or is that off the script of the sales pitch... Ask him how he contradicts himself by appointing over 30 czars? Wake up people Obama hides what the truth is by speaking in vague terms. Ask him if Jesus Christ according too scripture is the ONLY way to heaven? A real Christina would say YES. Ask him why he hid his Islamic roots well running to be president only too embrace them and be proud of them in the middle East. A real Christian isn't proud of a deceiver like Muhammad. Gods word says who is the great liar? But he who denies the Son. Obama denies Gods Son Jesus Christ by His works. Much of the media may be your tool Obama, but thank God many see the error of your ways! My health is in Gods hands. The wise depend on GOD not the gov. God will expose you!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:57 am |
  6. David

    If the Health Care plan is such a good deal, why is Congress and the President exempt from this plan?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    Hey guys in the media you want it both ways i.e. catch 22.
    HRC and Bill were wrong for cooking up a detailed bill that the House and Senate voted down. ( 1994)
    Now Obama ( he is not god as some would believe) set out key parameters and said Ok House and Senate reform it within the guidelines and you media guys seem to want him to do an HRC and Bill.
    C'mon y'all be realistic and stop the drama, a be real reporters.
    Is the CBO over pessimistic?
    Ask the Republicans why "competition" ( from wherever) will drive the major medical insurers out of business especially when a key policy of Obama's guidelines was if you're happy with your private cover keep it!? Competition is a fundamental of market economics?!!
    Start looking at the the medical insures greed and the unjustifiable increases in premiums and conditions ( exclusions co-pays etc) AND RESULTANT PROFITS over many years, curbing that "greed" alone pays for the plans!!

    July 30, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  8. Nydria Humphries

    Where is Katherine Sebelius on this issue, do I have to go up to DOH to talk to her? I don't even know what she sounds like! The entire cabinet can relate to this Health Care issue, but where are they?

    July 30, 2009 at 5:43 am |
  9. Imsadd

    I just wonder why TORT REFORM is not mentioned in this giant health care take over? I 'm sick and tired of all these lawyers suing just to sue, also obama is not telling us anything, maybe if he would take some time off his busy vacationing and actually read the bill, maybe he would be more informed

    July 30, 2009 at 5:42 am |
  10. Nydria Humphries

    Hello CNN, I see MJ is more important then Mr. President by the number of comments left for the deceased pop star. How come humans never support the living as much as they support the deceased? Also, why have Kanye West declared himself the King of pop. The only Kings I know where in the ancient ages. England doesn't even have a king. We do not want a King--people are all twisted up inside. How come these congressmen and women don't say anything if they can't understand the bill? Since they want to be in ancient times, won't they hire a scribe to interpret it? Im tired of these politicians not paying attention! Why is the President still campaiging for this issue--it must be deeper than we know. These doctors are not God, nor anywhere near it. Everyone should have equal opportunities when it comes to healthcare, because its is always a new plague. Furthermore, if everyone can't get a vaccination, a whole population can easily be exposed to death. I have no idea why DC HIV/Aids rate is so high? Unless its because of the sanitation and tidiness of the institution.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:34 am |
  11. Craig D. Mitchell

    No one is oblivious to the fact that there is and has been discrimination in this country, not even the President. With that being said, the President did react to the issue surrounding his long time friend. All of his friends are not black. I believe under the same set of circumstances, he would defend his white friends just as passionately. This is a basic human characteristic shown by all, on all levels throughout history. No one is immune. I think the President, maybe, should have not said anything publicly, but I do not fault him for doing so. He is much smarter and refined than I am so who am I to talk.

    July 30, 2009 at 4:13 am |
  12. Robert Garraway

    Hey Anderson,
    I hope you can help this confussed Canadian. In Canada all ads on radio and TV must be checked for truthfullness before they are posted. And no ad found to be untruthfull or even stretching the truth too far is not aired. If I understand what is happening in the debate on Health Care Reform in America, this does not seem to be the way. Am I correct, anyone can say anything about anything or anyone, truth or not, and it will be aired? If this is true how can any American believe anything said by anyone on TV or Radio.
    Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

    A confussed Canadian

    July 30, 2009 at 3:35 am |
  13. Lael Bradshaw

    i thought Congress was supposed to work for the "people". We need a government healthcare for all. Single payer would be great, but I guess its too much to ask since it would put the big money insurance people out of work. Insurance only cares about profit. The republicans care about lobbyist. So the people are left out again. I would really like to see congress get along with the same insurance working people get.

    July 30, 2009 at 3:30 am |
  14. Mark Stewart

    I've lived in a few countries outside the US. Of course, they all had universal healthcare. From Obama's first call to "insurance companies" it was crystal clear nothing will change that US of another America. But take heart. Government media relations and insurance business are about to remind all how that Spirit of Care really "counts". Uh-huh? What's that sabres'n'satellites budget? Sometimes matters close to the heart demand more than prayer.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  15. nea-nea

    People that are talking Government run healthcare, saying they dont wont the government to run this or that you talk against it until you need help like unemployement, food satmps remember when G. Bush gave Rebate checks, that was from the government. Why didnt the ones that are against Government help send the money back. And for the unemployement checks send them back too. And for the ones that get medicaid or medicare send it back as well if you dont want Government help.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:43 am |
  16. natalie

    I'm a small business owner in Cincinnnati, Oh, I've been tring to get good health care for a long time, I pay $150.00 a month, and have a $5,000 deductable that re-sets every 12 months, Now I can pay maybe $250.00 a month with a $2,500 deductable, So yea I can go to the Dr. but the labs and X-rays, anything outpatient is not covered, it is all under the deductable, I only get sick like never...I'm 32 and healthy. So what's up with that. I'm tring to get the same care, that I got when I was employed at a Business. So Please Congress and all American's understand when you loose your job or go self-employed, your not getting that same care any more. I'm tired of going to the free clinic and paying $200.00 for anti-biotics..Some Americans are so selfish they go about their lives like nobody else counts, until they need help. Obama is tring to help people like me....so let him cause one day you will be in my shoe's...ps. I'm a very hard working woman and I'm willing to pay the premiums.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  17. Marie Greene

    America, let's stop talking negative about our President, the Bible says pray for your leaders. He has the Republicans mess waiting when he went in to White House. You had your chance Republicans and did nothing but steal money and get girfriends to take care of with your "no nothings" selves All of you need to go home and we can pay with health care with your checks since you aren't doing anything but complaining, which no should get paid for that. When I was in the Military for 28 years, we had to respect the Commander-in-Chief. Why are these America people keep disrespecting the President. Most countries will have you hung at high noon. Stop the Hate Republicans and who ever else out there acting like sillies. Did the devil make you do it? or it is instilled in your bodies as hate and trouble makers. America deserves more than this and we are Blessed and don't even know it-Sad day for America. The world see you acting stupid, Yes, I said it, stupid!

    July 30, 2009 at 12:08 am |
  18. Clarence

    President Obama is doing a great job. He is fighting for the American people so they can have a decent health plan. The problem is Congress. It appears that they can't put things together. It is time for them to work together.

    Another point, the Republicans should stop bad-mouthing the president. We need health care as well as people who will represent all the people.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:37 pm |
  19. RLWellman

    I guess people don't remember the reforms President Bush tried to make to Medicare and Medicaid. They were turned down.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  20. Annie Kate

    If the current legislation is only going to provide health insurance through Medicaid and Medicare if you qualify under their means test then other than expanding the base of people who can get this insurance how is this change? How is this a better and what about the people still caught in the middle with no insurance? Surely Congress and Obama can come up with something better than what Michael McHugh describes that he's heard on C-Span.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  21. lampe

    Maybe the "NO REPUBLICANS" as someone called them knew that there is no way that The Government could possibly run a program like this. Look at the messes they already run MEDICARE and MEDICAID, not to mention The POST OFFICE, or The VA Hospitals that can't even take care of the people they already have.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  22. JC-Los Angeles

    You should have asked the President what hospice he will choose for the globe trotting Grandma Robinson.

    July 29, 2009 at 6:50 pm |
  23. Craig D. Mitchell

    As far as race relations I believe it is different, but just as bad as it was 10 years ago. People have gotten pretty crafty with deflections of their true outlook on race. Case and point, just because one has someone of opposite race in their family who they engage in conversation does not mean they do not harbor racist views. I also believe that there is no such thing as reverse racism. Reverse racial bias my be a more correct way of putting it. Racism in my eyes refers on one inferior and one superior party. Ethnocentrism.

    July 29, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  24. Craig D. Mitchell

    1) is it possible for private companies to pool their employees with the new government proposed plan? 2) is it possible that larger companies would pool together to compete for health insurance rates? What would be the projected effects of either one of these two ideas? I believe that either one of these prospects would incent larger and smaller companies to hire more employees given the tax benefit to companies for providing this healthcare. Please correct me if I am wrong. It seems like this would cause more people to have to work together.

    July 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  25. Lewis Peeples

    Why is that no one asks the "No Republicans" Why when they had the House,Senate,and White House,they did absolutely NOTHING about health care.Now they only criticize,and misrpresent the facts. Why did they do nothing?

    July 29, 2009 at 6:01 pm |
  26. Michael C. McHugh

    Having watched the health care hearings on C-Span, I know that the public option is not a single payer system that will offer universal coverage. The Republicans in Congress know this, even if they are not mentioning it on TV. It is a means tested program, with people up to 150% of the federal poverty level allowed to receive Medicaid, or those under 400% of the poverty level eligible for the public option or expanded Medicare program–whatever it's going to be called. With means testing like this, it would be impossible for government to take over the whole health care system, even if that was the intention. All it's going to do is cover the unemployed and those too poor to buy private insurance.

    July 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  27. Diane

    I have noticed several TV folks like Al Roker losing weight through surgery like lap-band. I wonder if health care reform would now cover this simple surgery for folks who want to be healthier but can't seem to keep the weight off. I also wonder if that is how Candy Crowley lost all her weight. She looks fantastic!

    July 29, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  28. Iyapo Kontar

    Black in american need the help of the NRA
    We need your support to arm then self for self defence.
    I ever one has a gun then you can protect there family
    From the return of the clan by fox

    July 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm |