August 15th, 2009
10:14 PM ET
13 years ago

No 'silver bullet' to health care overhaul, Obama says

(CNN) - There is no "silver bullet" solution to health care overhaul, President Obama said on Saturday, but the system needs to change to avoid "a world of hurt" down the road.

"There is no perfect, painless silver bullet out there that solves everyone's problem, that gives everyone perfect health care for free. I wish there was," Obama said in a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado.

"I can't do it. Nobody can. What I can do is try to sort though what are all the options available, be realistic about where we're going on health care, say to myself if we keep on doing what we're doing, we're in a world of hurt."

If health care reform fails, Medicare and Medicaid risk going broke, state and federal budgets will be unsustainable, "and then we're going to have to make some really bad decisions where we have no good options," Obama said.

Obama's comments came in response to remarks from an audience member about the increasingly contentious tone the health care debate is taking, in Congress and in town hall meetings held by lawmakers around the country.

"Is it not time that something be done?" the man said.

In responding to the man's question, Obama also criticized opponents of health care overhaul, especially members of Congress who he said reduce the debate to scare tactics and mischaracterizations.

Updated: 10:14 p.m.

Full story

Related: Health care in America

Filed under: Colorado • Health care • President Obama
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. jeff

    I agree the health care sysstem needs to be fixed but why is it only the Obama way or if you disagree with him you are scaring people. Is it not scaring people saying that it needs to be fixed now my way or we are in for a terrible fall into the obis. Obama tends to leacture as if he is right and everyone else is wrong

    August 15, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  2. j

    read the bill....saw this on gov health care refom site....if we need reform now why does the bill not go into effect in 2010? also if this is better than free market then why isn't it required...who would want to keep insurance if its failing? read the bill. reference the bill

    Today, Secretary Sebelius rejected the notion that health reform can wait another year. In an op-ed appearing on, Sebelius makes the case that health reform will not only bring down costs, increase coverage, and improve the quality of care, but that health reform is essential to ensuring America’s economic future.

    Today, we have by far the most expensive health system in the world. We spend 50 percent more per person on health care than the average developed country, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. We spend more on health care than housing or food, the McKinsey Global Institute reported.

    Nationwide, health care costs consume 18 percent of our gross domestic product. If we continue on our current path, health care costs will consume 34 percent of our GDP by 2040, and the number of uninsured Americans will rise to 72 million, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.

    Even though we spend more than any other nation on health care, we aren't healthier. Only three developed countries have higher infant mortality rates. Our nation ranks 24th in life expectancy among developed countries. More than one-third of Americans are obese.

    These statistics are the signs of a system that is both unacceptable and unsustainable. They also show us the high cost of doing nothing. If we choose the status quo, more Americans will be uninsured, costs will continue to rise, and every American's health care will be at risk.

    CNN, 7/15/09

    August 15, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. jeff

    I agree the health care sysstem needs to be fixed but why is it only the Obama way or if you disagree with him you are scaring people. Is it not scaring people saying that it needs to be fixed now my way or we are in for a terrible fall into the obis. Obama tends to leacture as if he is right and everyone else is wrong. It is time to have people who are not affiliated with either party to come up with a plan

    August 15, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Renee DeAngelo

    I back President Obama's plan to take on and reform our failed health care system 100%. As a critical care registered nurse, I see the results of our broken system daily. The "death panel "comment is especially insulting if you have 2 brain cells to rub together. I hope the reform supporters can organize themselves with increased vigor to combat the unbelievable amount of misinformation that's been regurgitated by the right. I applaud Mr. Obama for taking on this monumental challenge. Also, I am pleased that Mr. Obama is keeping his campaign promise to continue coverage for college students that get dropped from parents coverage due to age. We must stop the insurance co. practices of arbitrarily capping benefits, dropping people for getting sick, and the whole pre-existing condition concept.

    August 15, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  5. Dennis

    A solution to controlling fraud among health care providers and insurance companies is to prosecute them. If it becomes an interstate crime, the Federal govt has the sole discretion to prosecute or not. Let's create an incentive for people to go to jail when they break the law and steal from their neighbor. Insurance companies have been giving it to us ever since state's required car insurance. Big Healthcare jumped onboard with the public hose-job after the Clinton's got involved in healthcare. We are not and have not been better off since Nixon–who under the current laws governing government, would not even be a criminal.

    August 15, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  6. Minesh

    Your truth squad should be rated – Pants on Fire!

    August 15, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  7. Marie Laveaux

    I applaud the President for remaing cool in the face of all of the malicious lies and scare tactics the opposition have put out there. I agree that there must be healthy debate on this and all issues, but I see no evidence of this , just a lot of the same from the right wing. If the people on the clips of the town hall meetings are representative of the other side of this debate, we are in pretty bad shape. All I can see are people who sound ill-informed, angry, and not willing to listen to the facts.

    August 15, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  8. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    The great majority of Americans are responsible, and work to have great health coverage. Why jeopardize them for the small percentage who won't do anything for themselves, and want everything for free?

    August 15, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. kygirl

    I am so glad I voted for Obama. He maintains class while proving his case. If a bunch of liberals acted like the angry mobs we've seen in the town halls, the conservatives would say that they have no morals and decency in sharing their opinions. Now the conservatives call the angry mobs "frustrated" and that "they deserve to share their voice."

    Now, I for one agree that one should share their opinions, but not where they are belligerent and acting out on down-right lies. I am also tired of hearing conservatives say "Read the bill" (which, by the way there's more than one version of the bill) but CAN'T QUOTE the portion of "the bill" that supports their crazy lies (i.e. death panels, gov't takeover, etc.). When you even think about the Republican option, they still have to answer the question on how they plan to pay for their plan (which will cost money too). Besides, if republicans don't like socialism, give the gov't back their medicare. That idea was adopted by the US from Germany. I also assume that UPS and FedEx is going bankrupt since the US post office is gov't run. *sarcasm*

    He understands that healthcare is one of the main contributing factors to millions of families' finances. I have a young family member that got Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and couldn't work due to her illness (can't walk, talk or see very well) and therefore, can't get insurance or even afford it. It's about time we do something about the health care issue.

    August 15, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. James - Columbus

    Just do not, DO NOT, DO NOT, take us in a direction of single payer health care !! We have 300,000,000 citizens so it's inconceivable that a federal bureacracy could adequately provide for the nation. It would be an absolute fiasco - END OF STORY!

    August 15, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    I'll let everyone know what I find out about the UK's health care system this week.

    August 15, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Shingo

    The GOP, the Insurance Companies are out to save their behinds (make bizillions of dollars) at the expense of the American Public. They use scare tactics and chaos in hopes the people will not see through what is happening. If the public does not wake us soon you will see more economic hardships. As jobs are few you will see either no heathcare or you will pay huge premiums. Small business will not be able to keep up. Only the wealthy will have health care.

    August 15, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  13. wow, you we are so lucky to have you as pres.

    thank you and I just can't believe that the correct man at the correct time happened for the U.S.

    It is going to be very tough, those that profit off of pain and take advantage of the population are going to continue to call names and fight tooth and nail because no one wants to give up a monopoly or give up their cash cow

    the fleecing of the U.S. has to stop

    August 15, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  14. Thank You President Obama!

    Someone please tell me what is the republican health care plan? What did they do the last 8 years regarding health care reform or anything that would benefit this country besides bankrupting it and plunging us into an illegal war?

    August 15, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    I got a lot out of this meeting as I watched it LIVE and uncut... You can get MORE if it's not ROWDY!!! This meeting really proved that people had concerns and their questions were answered. I am sure there were many in the audience who did not agree – as the camera zoomed through while the audience applauds and you noticed many were not... But it was not disruptive!!!

    This proves you can get your point across without causing Chaos during the meeting.... Thank you President Obama!!!

    August 15, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  16. Jon

    It won't take long to obama-nization and socialization of America! Should we say let's get those town hall "mobsters", let's get those "un-American" who disagree with socialized medicine and healthcare, let's get those rich Americans who pay over 50% of American's tax revenue and let's get those small business people who are the engine of US economy but they can't afford to buy health insurance for their employees ... And let's get Palin because of those who suffer from Palin-deranged syndrome? I guess these practices are truly un-Americans and not consistent with our beloved constitution!

    August 15, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  17. 4 Palin

    I am sick of hearing Obama use the phrase "pull the plug on Grandma" I think that that is the most unprofessional and uncaring way for him to address this. When a family is having to make that decision, this is a very hurtful way to hear someone phrase that. Wouldn't it seem as if he cared more, if he said "when the time comes for families to make the hard decision to end their loved ones life, the Government won't interfere one way or the other in that very personal decision". I don't think that he is a bit funny when he says this.

    August 15, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  18. Dave in Illinois

    President Obama uses scare tactics and mischaracterizations as much as anyone when he tries to limit the choices to his plan or economic disaster if we do nothing. There are other options that could be considered if he would stop demonizing everyone who disagrees with his vision. We elected him to united the country, not tear it apart.

    August 15, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  19. Tracy-Oakley

    Nothing worth while is conquered with a silver bullet. It always takes hard work, sacrafice, honesty, and constant smart thinking.

    August 15, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  20. Hugo

    I thought the silver bullet was to kill werewolves and vampires. If it works on those kind of blood suckers in Hollyweird lala land then it should work on those blood sucker Bills in Washington. Tort law reform and more ardent insurance regulations would be the fix and you do not have to be a Harvard lawyer to figure that one out! I am not sure what makes me madder, the degree of ignorance that these guys in Washington think we all share or the way Obama tried to cram this up our butts while no one was looking!

    August 15, 2009 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  21. Obama - NOPE

    85 out of every 100 Americans work for, and have, good coverage. Why should they give that up, for the 15 of 100 who expect everything for free? Why not also hand those 15 a nice house, and a new car, and new clothes, along with their government-dole health entitlement?

    August 15, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  22. Chip Pudims

    Obama has time and time again said whatever is necessary to meet his objectives. This is so evident I do not understand how so many can go on believing his checks that can't be cashed. Eventually he will self-destruct, but how much damage will be done is the underlying issue. What if he can get his public option through congress? When it self-destructs will it be too late to undo the damage? Americans must stand up for their inalienable right of self-determination or face the consequences. After all Obama has stated, publicably, the public option is the only way to get to his true ambition, a single-payer system (socialized medicine)!

    August 15, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  23. Tatianna

    Obama said:If we keep doing what were doing, were in a world of hurt.If healthcare reform fails, Medicare and Medicaid risk going broke,state and federal budgets will be unstainable. Obama using scare tactics,the very same thing he blames healthcare overhall opponents of doing. I smell Obama hypocrisy.

    August 15, 2009 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  24. Tom in CA

    The only "Silver Bullet" that I know of is in the Lone Ranger's six-shooter!

    This means that if the public wants health care reform, then they need to tell their US Representative and US Senators that they want it!

    If they want to believe in the fear that's being spewn forth from the Repugnants, then they don't deserve health care reform!

    August 16, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
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