Obama Calls on Doctors To Boost Support for Health Care Reform
In the White House Rose Garden Monday, President Obama addressed about 150 physicians dressed in lab coats who have pledged to publicly support Democratic health reform proposals, Politico reports.
The physicians represent an important endorsement of current overhaul plans, and the event was seen as even more potent because it was held the same week that the Senate Finance Committee likely will vote on its final reform bill.
Obama told them, "You are the people who know the [health] system best," adding, "You are the experts. Nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do." He added that "some of the people who are most supportive of reform are ... the doctors and the nurses of America" (Budoff Brown, Politico, 10/6).
Where They Came From
Attendees were members of professional physicians' organizations such as the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, Doctors for America, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Cardiology (Koffler , Roll Call, 10/5).
In addition, some physicians were members of the group "Red States, Blue States" (Youngman, The Hill, 10/5).
The New York Times' "Prescriptions" reports that one of the groups supplying many of the physicians for the event, Doctors for America, is a not-for-profit organization that grew out of Doctors for Obama, which advocated for Obama's election during the 2008 presidential campaign (Stolberg, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 10/5).
Obama's speech also was held in conjunction with an effort by Organizing for America to have doctors hold local events and make phone calls in support of health care reform (Koffler , Roll Call, 10/5).
Obama called on the physicians to build support for reform legislation that caps out-of-pocket expenses for patients and lowers the cost of insurance. He also endorsed insurance exchanges, where U.S. residents could choose between various health plans, as well as a requirement that insurance companies cover the cost of preventive care (Parsons, Los Angeles Times, 10/5).
According to the Washington Times, Obama did not give the doctors explicit instructions on how to generate support for such proposals (Mosk, Washington Times, 10/5).
The president also discussed a directive he issued to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to investigate techniques to promote patient safety while also encouraging new methods of limiting medical malpractice lawsuits, which is an important issue for physicians (The Hill, 10/5).
In addition, Obama defended current reform proposals against Republican criticisms. He said that "at this point we've heard all the arguments," including "crazy claims about death panels" and "misleading" comments about a government takeover of the health care system (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/5).
GOP Physicians Deny Wide Support of Dems' Proposals, Criticize Event
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), an orthopedic surgeon, on Monday said that significant disagreement exists among rank-and-file physicians with the decision of some physicians' groups to support Democratic overhaul initiatives. He said that many members of AMA do not support Obama's proposals.
According to Barrasso, the biggest criticism of Democratic reform efforts are that they would make cuts in Medicare that "would not save" the program and instead would pay for the health system overhaul. Also, he said that physicians worry Democrats will not include a comprehensive malpractice reform proposal in overhaul legislation.
Barrasso also explained that Obama's proposal for demonstration projects designed to reduce lawsuits does not appeal to some physicians because similar initiatives already exist.Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, said that Obama did not include a representative sample of physicians at the event (Koffler , Roll Call, 10/5). 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.