TRANSCRIPT: 'Questions for the President: Prescription for America'

But I also think that one of the big potential areas where we can make progress is what Hershaw talked about, and that is, how can we get nurses involved in more effective ways?

If you look at what's happening in some states like Massachusetts, where they tried to create a universal system -- and they haven't quite gotten there yet -- they have had a problem with an overload of patients.

But one of the areas where we can potentially see some savings is, a lot of those patients are being seen in the emergency room anyway. And if we are increasing prevention, if we are increasing wellness programs, we're reducing the amount of emergency room care, then that frees up doctors and resources to provide the kind of primary care that will keep people healthier, but also allow them to see more patients and hopefully give more time to patients, as well.

SAWYER: I want to turn to someone who thinks we should follow up on what we were talking about a while back, namely about, in some way, reducing the vicious cycle of lots of tests, lots of treatment, what's necessary, what isn't necessary, and saying that somebody has got to enforce this. It's not going to happen if somebody doesn't. And, by the way, he is James Rohack from Texas, and he is president of the AMA, the American Medical Association.

DR. J. JAMES ROHACK, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Thank you. Mr. President, clearly, when you spoke to us last week, you said that we entered the medical profession not to be bean counters, not to be paper pushers, but to be healers. And we totally agree.

How are you going to assure the American public that medical decisions will still be between the patient and the physician and not some bureaucracy that will make decisions on cost and not really what the patient needs?

GIBSON: Once again, we'll leave that question on the table.

OBAMA: All right.

GIBSON: You answer it when we come back from commercial break. "Prescription for America" will continue.


GIBSON: So, Mr. President, you remember the question.

OBAMA: I do.

Well, first of all, I want to thank the American Medical Association. I did appear before them just last week in Chicago, my hometown, and had a terrific exchange of ideas. And we're continuing to work with all stakeholders -- doctors, nurses, insurers, and obviously patients, you name it. Folks out there are interested in seeing this happen.

The most important thing I can say, James, on this issue is, if you are happy with your plan and you are happy with your doctor, then we don't want you to have to change. In fact, if we don't do anything, if there's inaction, I think that's where the great danger that you lose your health care exists, because of the cost problems that I already talked about.

So what we're saying is, if you are happy with your plan and your doctor, you stick with it. If you don't have insurance, if it's too

much for you to afford, if your employer doesn't provide or you're

self-employed, then we will have what is called an exchange, but you can

also think of it as a marketplace where essentially people can compare

and look at what options are out there.

They'll have a host of different health care plans available, each

with their own physicians network. And you will be able to sign up for

the plan that works for you. We will help people who don't have

insurance get insurance.

Doctors are not going to be working for the government. They're

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