AUDIENCE MEMBER: What about the public option?THE PRESIDENT: That’s not in it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Why not?
THE PRESIDENT: Because we couldn’t get it through Congress, that’s why. So they -- let’s -- there’s no need to shout, young man, no need to shout.
Thirty-two people -- 32 million people are going to have health insurance because of this legislation. That’s what this work is about. (Applause.) So that’s what’s going to happen.
Now, I want to just make this point. This legislation is not perfect, as you just heard. (Laughter.) This young man is dissatisfied with an aspect of it, which is fine. I mean, that’s part of what democracy is about. But what this is, is a historic step to enshrine the principle that everybody gets health care coverage in this country, every single person. (Applause.)
And it’s absolutely true -- it’s absolutely true this is a middle-of-the-road bill. This isn’t single-payer, which some people wanted. It’s also not what the Republicans were looking for, which was basically to deregulate the insurance industry, arguing that somehow this would cut down costs -- something that defies the experience of everybody who’s dealt with an insurance company out there. (Laughter.)
So, yes, this is a common-sense bill. It doesn’t do everything that everybody wants, but it moves us in the direction of universal health care coverage in this country and that's why everybody here fought so hard for it. (Applause.)
This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about, still shouting about. Now that they passed it -- now that we passed it, they’re already promising to repeal it. They’re actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November. You’ve been hearing that. And my attitude is: Go for it. (Applause.)
Single payer is the only solution that makes sense. Anything that takes us down the road toward it is something I support. Now that the "middle-of-the-road bill" has become law, it will take years for the pressure to build to make it better, to take the next big step toward single payer. But if the "middle-of-the-road bill" had died, I think it would have taken us decades to get to the point we are today.
But who knows? Maybe we can add on a public option plan before the exchanges kick in in 2014. Or maybe we can move the effective date up to 2012. As the President says, we have the framework, but we have to complete the building.