Michelle Obama: Health Care Reform Won't Be Easy

First lady on personal responsibility, educating kids, and her favorite food.

ByABC News via logo
June 19, 2009, 1:25 PM

June 23, 2009 — -- As the debate over health care reform escalates on Capitol Hill and in the White House, first lady Michelle Obama told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview that "no system is going to be perfect" and "it's not going to be easy."

The argument between Republicans and Democrats centers around the Obama administration's proposal for a government-sponsored health insurance plan, or "public option," that would compete with private insurance.

Despite the contention over the merits of the plan and as how it would be funded, the first lady told "GMA" she thinks success is possible now because "more and more people are ready for this kind of reform."

"The country has moved to another point in time," she said. "It's not going to be easy, but you have more people who are ready to try to figure it out. And hopefully that will ultimately make the difference this time around. "

The first lady acknowledged that her involvement in promoting nutrition, wellness and prevention "is to me one of the true keys of changing the health paradigm in this country."

The first lady sat down with "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts in the grandchildren's garden in the White House South Lawn. The stepping stones into the garden have handprints of former presidents' grandchildren, beginning with Lyndon Johnson. Young people are at the center of the first lady's focus on nutrition, one that begins in her own home.

"We try to do more meals as a family," she said. "Just sitting together and having dinner has made a huge difference in how we eat and enjoy food."

And the old adage about eating your veggies is alive and well in the White House.

"Sasha likes peas and Malia is a pretty big broccoli fan," she said.

The first lady said she and her husband try to set a good example when it comes to diet and exercise, but pointed out that they are fortunate to have the resources to make it a priority.

"The truth is, people are busy and they're stressed and they're tired," she said. "That I know. And far be it from me to be a part of adding any more stress to anyone's lives because 'Michelle Obama did it; that means I have to do it.' I have a lot of help. I've got a mother here, I've got resources. I would be remiss in not acknowledging that. But I would also urge people to think about the small things that they can do within their control."

She added that her passion for children's health stems from her personal experiences as a working mother.

"Probably like most moms, working mothers, working parents, there is a period when you struggle to figure out with a busy schedule, how do you feed your kids and make sure that they are eating healthy?" she said.