Americans can do much to take cost pressures out of the health care system by taking better care of themselves, President Obama said Thursday at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wis.
The president also told the crowd that he sees encouraging steps by many companies to improve employee health programs. He said healthier habits can take some of the stress out of the system.
"I do not want the government to run things. I've got enough to do. I've got North Korea and Iran. I've got Afghanistan and Iraq," Obama said.
That President Obama chose Green Bay to host a town hall on health care is no coincidence. The town most associated with the NFL’s Packers is actually a model for health care pragmatism.
According to the Washington Post, Green Bay has managed to control its medical spending while continually upgrading its care. Its Congressman, Steve Kagen, is a doctor.
"If we could make the rest of the nation practice medicine the way that Green Bay does, we would have higher quality and significantly lower costs," Peter Orszag, the Obama administration budget chief told the Post.
Obama already pushed his health care plan in northern Wisconsin as a candidate. During the campaign he hosted a town hall discussion, in nearby Kaukauna, to talk up his plan.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama will use the time in Wisconsin to describe why past efforts to change health care systems failed and warn about what happens if the overhaul doesn't take place this year.
This is just the first stop in a renewed touring health care push by the White House. Monday the president will speak to the American Medical Association in Chicago.
"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," said White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer.
Meanwhile, Senators have reached an early compromise on their draft legislation that could skirt the issue of too much government involvement in health care.
The compromise offered by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., would create health care cooperatives owned by groups of residents and small businesses, similar to how electric or other cooperatives operate. They'd be nonprofit, and without the government involvement that troubles Republicans and business groups about the public plan options.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, said Wednesday the idea could be key to a bipartisan health bill. Baucus raised it in a meeting with President Barack Obama, saying later that Obama showed interest. Baucus' Republican counterpart, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said the concept had potential.
"It's a way to bridge the gap," Baucus told reporters.