"I know there are some who believe that reform is too expensive, but I can assure you that doing nothing will cost us far more in the coming years," President Obama said. "Our deficits will be higher. Our premiums will go up. Our wages will be lower, our jobs will be fewer, and our businesses will suffer."
Listen to the full speech here:
Mr. Obama and some members of Congress have said that they want to see a health care reform bill signed this year -- sweeping legislation that would change the way that U.S. health care is provided and paid for. Wednesday's meeting represents the beginning of a new push by the White House to sell the public on health care reform.
"In the coming days and weeks as Congress moves to the issue, the president will be more active in making the public case for the urgent need to reform our health-care system," White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer told the Washington Post.
The president is also bringing his message to the major stakeholders in health care reform. He will speak next Monday to members of the American Medical Association at their annual meeting. On Wednesday, the doctor's group expressed its opposition to a public health insurance plan -- a government-funded plan that would compete with private insurers and offer an option to people unable to get private insurance. President Obama has supported including a public insurance plan option in any health reform legislation.
In addition to expanding access to coverage, Mr. Obama has stressed the importance of reducing costs by trimming medical spending on expensive tests and procedures that do little to improve the quality of care.
He chose Green Bay to make his pitch because the health care providers in the city seem to be doing that already.
According to the Washington Post, The Dartmouth Atlas Project, which tracks health care spending around the country, has found that Medicare spends an average of $46,412 per patient in the last two years of a patient's life nationwide, with an average of 19.6 days in the hospital. In Green Bay, however, that number is only $33,334 with 14.1 days in the hospital.
President Obama attributed part of the area's success with coordination among providers.
"Let me describe to you what's happening, part of the reason that Green Bay is doing a better job than some other parts of the country. There are places where doctors typically work together as teams. And they start off asking themselves, "How can we provide the best possible care for this patient?" And because they're coordinating, they don't order a bunch of duplicative tests," Mr. Obama said.
"And the primary care physician who initially sees the patient is in contact with all the specialists so that in one meeting they can consult with each other and make a series of decisions."
Wisconsin also gets high scores on a range of health care treatment measures from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.