Obama Aims To Sell American Medical Association on Reform
President Obama will discuss health care reform at the annual conference of the American Medical Association today, USA Today reports.
Last week, the group expressed concern about a government-run health insurance option (Fritze, USA Today, 6/15). On Thursday, AMA clarified a statement it made a day earlier that it is opposed to a public plan.
AMA President Nancy Nielsen said, "The AMA opposes any public plan that forces physicians to participate, expands the fiscally challenged Medicare program or pays Medicare rates, but the AMA is willing to consider other variations of a public plan that are currently under discussion in Congress" (American Health Line, 6/12).
AMA has taken issue with modeling a public plan after Medicare because it believes Medicare underpays doctors and needs to be improved rather than expanded (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 6/14).
Nielsen said that AMA has requested additional details on a potential public option (AP/USA Today, 6/12).
On Saturday, Nielsen told the 543 members of the association's House of Delegates that AMA's chief goals for health reform would be to obtain higher physician payments from Medicare and to have non-economic damages capped for medical liability suits, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Nielsen added that AMA also opposes penalties that could be levied against doctors who make mistakes under a proposed system that would pay them based on patient outcomes rather than care delivered (Chicago Tribune, 6/14).
What Obama Will Say
According to White House documents released Sunday, Obama will attempt to convince AMA members that a public plan would lower health care costs and allow coverage to be expanded. He also will tout the approximately $300 billion in health care spending cuts proposed by the White House this weekend.
In addition, Obama will "lay out his vision for a system that replicates best practices, incentivizes excellence and closes cost disparities." He also will speak about "a health insurance exchange where private plans compete with a public option that drives down costs and expands choice" (Alexander, Reuters, 6/15).
According to the outline of the speech, "The president will be clear about what a public option does and doesn't mean for patients, physicians and our broader health care system."
In addition, Obama will "address the heart of [the] problem of rising costs: that we're spending too much money on treatments that don't make Americans any healthier, and that our system equates more expensive care with better care," the outline stated (Budoff Brown, Politico, 6/14).
Nielsen has said AMA members hope to "reduce unnecessary costs by focusing on quality improvements, such as developing best practices for care and improving medical reconciliation" (Babington, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/14).
Obama's outline also stated that he "will thank the AMA for their leadership in promoting comprehensive reform, and he'll pledge to work with AMA to achieve reform that works for everyone" (Politico, 6/14).
Indiana University Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research Director Aaron Carroll said AMA this year likely "won't fight as hard as they have in the past" against efforts that would increase the government's role in health care because the public supports such changes (AP/USA Today, 6/12).
Limiting Malpractice Suits
The New York Times reports that Obama has been "making the case" in private meetings that reducing malpractice lawsuits could help drive down health care costs, a position that is supported by AMA but "could hurt him with the left wing of his party." However, such a provision is not likely to be included in either reform bill being developed by the Senate (Gay Stolberg/Pear, New York Times, 6/15).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Monday reported on how AMA's ability to influence the health reform debate has waned (Rovner, "Morning Edition," NPR, 6/15).NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday" reported on Obama's town hall meeting held in Wisconsin to build support for the public plan option. The segment included comments from Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (Simon, "Weekend Edition Saturday," NPR, 6/13). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.