George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following a Meeting on Health Care Initiatives and an Exchange With Reporters

April 04, 2006

The President. America needs a health care system that empowers patients to make rational and smart decisions for themselves and their families, a health care system in which the relationship between the patient and the provider are central, not a health care system where decisions are made by the Federal Government.

So we've been having a discussion here today about how to make sure our health care system meets certain objectives: one, empowering the patients; two, how do we have a system that helps control rising costs in health care?

And one of the interesting and innovative ways to do that is through health savings accounts. Health savings accounts are good for the uninsured; they're good for small businesses; they're good for larger corporations. And people around the table here have been sharing their experiences with how folks are saving money through health savings accounts. And I would urge the small-business owner or the individual who is concerned about his or her health care to take a look at a health savings account.

We talked about the importance of cost savings through these important products, but we also talked about how we can work with the United States Congress to strengthen them, to make them more appealing, to give people more choices in the marketplace, to say to the American people, "We trust your judgment. We trust you to make the right decision for you and your families."

And so I want to thank you all for coming for this most interesting discussion. And I'll be glad to take a couple of questions.

Nedra [Nedra Pickler, Associated Press].

Representative Thomas D. DeLay

Q. Yes, sir. Thank you. I'm wondering if we can get your reaction to Tom DeLay's resignation? Do you think it hurts the Republican Party or your ability to get work done in Congress?

The President. I had a talk last night on my way back from the ball game with Congressman DeLay. He informed me of his decision. My reaction was, it had to have been a very difficult decision for someone who loved representing his district in the State of Texas. I wished him all the very best, and I know he's looking forward to—he's looking to the future.

My own judgment is, is that our party will continue to succeed because we're the party of ideas. And one of the most important ideas is to make sure that health care is available and affordable for the citizens of this country. One way to do so is to trust the patients, trust the American people when it comes to making rational decisions for health care for them and their families. And that's exactly what we've been discussing here at the table.

Caren [Caren Bohan, Reuters].

White House Staff

Q. Thank you, sir. Your new Chief of Staff takes over soon, and I'm wondering, is there likely to be far-reaching changes in the staff at the White House? And is Secretary Snow expected to stay on?

The President. Secretary Snow is here at the table. He's been a part of this discussion. I'm glad you brought him up. He has been a valuable member of my administration, and I trust his judgment and appreciate his service.

I've, as you know, accepted the resignation of Andrew Card, my long-time friend, a person who will go down in the annals as one of the really fine Chiefs of Staff in the history of the White House. I've asked Josh Bolten to take his place. Josh has served us very well as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. I told Josh that he is—will organize the White House in such a way that he is comfortable with and that meets my needs. And my needs are to have good, crisp information so I can make decisions on behalf of the American people.

And I look forward to Josh's recommendations as to how to get this White House to—for the last 2 1/2 years of my administration, to continue to function in an effective way. And it functioned very effectively under Andy Card, by the way. I'm most proud of his administration and proud of the team that he assembled.

Dick [Richard Stevenson, New York Times].


Q. Mr. President, the situation in Iraq continues to be fraught with violence. You have expressed impatience in recent days of the progress towards forming a coalition government. Do you think, as some people on the ground there are saying in the Iraqi political firmament, that it's getting very close to the point of no return?

The President. I believe that people ought to pay attention to the fact that 3 months ago, or a little over 3 months ago, 12 million people went to the polls and said, "I want to live in a democracy." And there is a group of folks in Iraq that want to stop the advance of democracy, and therefore, they're willing to use violence to do so. The one way to help bring confidence to the Iraqi people that those few will not be able to determine the future of that country is for there to be a unity government that steps up and says, "I'm willing to lead."

And so I sent Secretary Rice to Iraq with that message. And the message is, is that the people of Iraq have voted, and now it's time for the elected leaders to stand up and do their job. So we look forward to working with them to put together a unity government, a government that will reject the sectarian violence, will reject the militias, reject Zarqawi and the terrorists that are trying to create enough chaos so that America loses nerve. And I'm not going to lose my nerve as the President, because we're doing the right thing in establishing a democracy in that country. And by establishing a democracy, we're laying the foundation for peace.

And that's what we want. We want there to be peace. We want our children not to have to grow up under the threat of violence coming out of the Middle East. And one of the lessons of September the 11th, 2001, is that—this sense of—that tyranny is okay, but underneath the surface there was resentment—and the way—and anger that became the breeding grounds for these killers. And the best way to defeat that is with the light and hope of democracy. And you bet it's tough in Iraq, and it's tough because people are trying to stop the advance of democracy. And I'm convinced we're making progress there. But I do urge the folks on the ground to get that unity government in place so that the Iraqi people have confidence in their future.

I thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:19 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to senior Al Qaida associate Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting on Health Care Initiatives and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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