TRANSCRIPT: President Obama's Interview on "Good Morning America"

SAWYER: If you don't get the tax--

OBAMA: So-- so, if-- so, if we-- if we don't make these decisions, we'll be worse off. If we do make these decisions, are there going be some difficult changes that we're going have to go through? Absolutely.

SAWYER: Are you--

OBAMA: But I think it's the course that will allow us to grow over the long term.

SAWYER: Are you open to taxing benefits?

OBAMA: I have identified the ways that I think we should finance this. I think Congress should adopt them. I'm going to wait and see what ideas ultimately they come up with. I suspect when they start saying-- what the options are, they might end up concluding that actually-- the options we're presenting are the best ones.

SAWYER: So, you're not going say one way or the other, at this point.

OBAMA: I don't want to prejudge what they're doing. We've put forward what we think is best.

SAWYER: Is there a point at which you will say, "I will wait. I will not accept it at this cost"?

OBAMA: Yes. I-- I think that if any reform that we get is not driving down costs in a serious way--

SAWYER: You won't do it?

OBAMA: If-- if people say, "We're just going add more people onto a hugely inefficient system," then I will say no. Because-- we can't afford it. If-- there aren't some basic game changes in the system, additional incentives for prevention. Encouraging-- you know, family care physicians. If we're not-- you know-- looking at what systems work best and trying to duplicate that. All those things that drive down costs. If those aren't in there-- then-- I'm not for the Bill.

Obama: 'The Status Quo is Unsustainable'

SAWYER: Listening to all this, riding the rapids here--

OBAMA: Yeah.

SAWYER: --as we approach this conversation. I just wonder, have you talked with Secretary of State Clinton about her experience? Have you--

OBAMA: You know what--

SAWYER: --asked her advice to this?

OBAMA: You know, I-- I mean, I've spoken to-- Secretary Clinton before. I've talked to President Clinton-- about this, in the past. And I think that they made a valiant effort back in '93, but I think there are things that are different between now and '93. I think businesses are feeling much more pressure from health care costs than they were feeling back in '93. I think that families have seen additional cost burdens. Higher deductibles, higher premiums, even if they have health insurance.

So, there's an eagerness to bring about change. Now, you know, the-- the devil you know sometimes better than the devil you don't. And I think that this debate is always vulnerable to scare tactics and people saying it's going be worse if we make changes. My simple point is that the status quo is unsustainable. So, change is going happen whether-- we pass a Bill here in Washington or not.

If we don't, then the change is going happen is-- is that the higher costs, more people suffering under-- prohibitions of pre-existing conditions. Drug costs that are soaring. You know, hospitals that are-- losing money. All those changes are going occur. It's just that we won't have planned those changes in a way that are better for the American People. And I'd rather guide the change-- and I think that's where most Americans are.

SAWYER: Will you accept mandates with fines for individuals if they don't sign up?

OBAMA: Now, mandates are an example of-- of something that I was resistant to-- during the campaign.

SAWYER: Against it during the campaign.

OBAMA: Yeah.

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