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Ari & I: June 20, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mokhiber: Ari, on managed care, we spend $4,200 per person, per year on health care. And yet 42 million Americans have no health insurance and 50 million have inadequate health insurance.

The Swiss spend $2,400, the Germans spend $2,300, the French $2,200, the Canadians, $2,000 -- and everyone is covered. And according to Dr. Quentin Young of Physicians for a National Health Care Program, they have a better health care system.

Question: He wants Medicare for All -- national health insurance. Would the President support such a program?

Ari Fleischer: The President believes that the best way to get health insurance to as many Americans as possible is a combination of the successful private plans that have been working, particularly for people who are under 65, and by reforming and saving Medicare, so that people who turn 65 will have a Medicare program that they can count on and rely on, that includes prescription drugs.

Mokhiber: What's wrong with Medicare for All -- everybody gets it?

Ari Fleischer: There is a current system in place that is focused on employer-provided health insurance --

Mokhiber: That is failing.

Ari Fleischer: That for tens of millions of Americans is a program that provides prescription drugs, is a program that provides much lower premiums and co-payments that Medicare currently supplies. I think if you were to ask many of those people who have insurance currently, if they would want to just abandon what they have and instead set up a different kind of program, they would respond to you and say -- no they prefer to have the system they have.

What's important, in the President's opinion, is to concentrate on those people who don't have any insurance. That's why the President is committed to the health care reforms that he ran on.

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