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President Obama makes remarks on Medicaid at White House health summit

CQ Transcriptions
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 5:34 PM

BAMA: I want to make sure that everybody gets -- gets an opportunity to -- to speak, but I just want to caution everybody. It's now 4:15. There are a number of folks who haven't had a chance to speak.

You know, the question I had was, were there ideas about expansion beyond the 3 million that was in Leader Boehner's bill, and I didn't get an answer to it. So -- so, in addition to -- and it may be that the answer is that's all we can do.

I should point out this one issue about Medicaid that I think that's important. Most of the people we'd like to be in the exchange and giving them subsidies. And I think, over time (inaudible) evolution, if you created a large enough pool, where people could purchase it through an exchange the same way that members of Congress do.

The problem we've got right now is that very poor people, they've got coverage through Medicaid. And it's somewhat flawed. There are problems with doctor reimbursements. There are problems long term, in terms of solvency, both for the state and the federal level, so all those things need to be fixed. But the fact of the matter is, if their kid gets sick, they can go to a doctor.

The people who are really left in the cold are working families who make too much for Medicaid and don't have anywhere to go. That's the group that right now is getting the worst deal. They're paying taxes. They're working, but they've got nowhere to go.

Now, for those 15 million people who've got nothing, I promise you, they would say to themselves, having some coverage through Medicaid is a pretty good deal. I'd prefer to have them in an exchange where over time we've got everybody in a pool, similar to the pool that members of Congress enjoy, but that's not the situation that we have right now.

I just want to remind everybody, though, that the group that is being left out -- because you threw out the word "welfare," which is, you know, one that obviously most American people, they don't want to be part of welfare -- the fact of the matter is that very poor people right now have coverage that is superior to what a lot of folks who make a little more money, are working very hard, trying to support their families, do not.

Now, I know that Max has been trying to get in for a while, but there are some other folks that haven't had a chance to speak, so I want to call on them first. BAUCUS: (OFF-MIKE)

OBAMA: And then, if I've got time, Max, I'll allow you to wrap up. But I'm going to go to -- Chris and Murray, Chris and Patty Murray on our side, as well as Charlie Rangel who want to speak. And I'm -- and what we'll do is we'll alternate to make sure that we've got -- oh, and I -- I know that Joe Barton is interested in speaking, as well, and there may be a couple other Republicans.

(UNKNOWN): Mr. President, can I follow Jim?

OBAMA: OK. Go ahead.

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