A.M.A. Opposed to Public Health Insurance Option: Obama Says it’s Staying

June 11, 2009

(ChattahBox)–As President Obama embarks on a push to generate public support for national health care reform, including town meetings and a speech before the American Medical Association in Chicago on Monday, lobbying groups for private insurance companies, Republicans opposed to the plan and now the A.M.A. are ratcheting up their criticism of a public health option.

President Obama is determined to institute health reform this year, calling it essential to our economic future. With 46 million people without health insurance in this country, Obama favors a public health option in any reform package to ensure that people who can’t afford coverage receive it.

However, the A.M.A., the largest physician organization representing nearly 250,000 members, prefers to stay with the status quo of a private based system.

The A.M.A. issued a letter to the Senate Finance Committee opposing any public health care option, saying health insurance should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” The A.M.A. said a public plan would drive out private insurers and raise costs.

“The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans,” said the A.M.A. in its letter to Congress.

Additionally, A.M.A. members are opposed to any provision mandating that doctors who participate in the Medicare system, also must accept patients covered through the public health insurance plan.

Although the A.M.A. has a strong lobbying arm, it’s not clear how much influence the organization would have over the health reform process. President Obama sent a letter to Congress last week reiterating his support for a pubic health care option to provide competition and keep private insurers honest.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week “A bill will not come out of the House without a public option.”

President Obama is not considering a single payer option, preferring instead to reform current health care, such as prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. In his town hall meeting held today in Green Bay Wisconsin, he said, “we will fix what’s broken and will build on what works”

However, a large group of doctors, Physicians for a National Health Program, supports a single payer option. A recent letter issued by a group of Harvard doctors supports a single payer option, noting that nearly two-thirds of all bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical problems.

The group believes that the current employer based system of private health insurance in our country is seriously flawed and needs to be scrapped and replaced with a national single payer system.

Obama described his version of a new health care system as a health care exchange program, offering people a one stop shopping option; to retain what insurance they have or choose something else.

He described a public health care option as an economic and moral imperative to provide health insurance to people who can’t afford it.

There are still some unanswered questions. For example, Obama didn’t address the issue of an insurance mandate, which some lawmakers believe is essential for a public option to work.

Expect the rhetoric from the opposition to increase as health care reform inches closer to completion, such as already debunked claims of “socialized medicine” and “bureaucrats deciding what doctors you can see.”

President Obama expects a final health care reform bill on his desk sometime in October.

Source


Comments

18 Responses to “A.M.A. Opposed to Public Health Insurance Option: Obama Says it’s Staying”

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  2. Old Man Dotes on June 11th, 2009 4:45 pm

    It should be nored that all of the members of the AMA are doctors, who are wealthy and don’t have to worry about paying for health care. Hmmm… And the Republicans – the traditional “Rihc White Man’s Party” – is opposed to the public health insurance option. And insurance companies, who make billions of dollars every year from (over)charging for health insurance premiums, are opposed to it…

    I could be wrong, but I believe that the number of voters who can’t afford health insurance is much larger than the number of voters who got fat and stay fat on the backs of the current private insurance system.

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  5. Evan on June 11th, 2009 9:42 pm

    Of course, they have no problem advocating that everyone in the United States be forced against their will to buy a certain product that might benefit their business.

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  11. Mike Oliphant on June 12th, 2009 2:11 pm

    I sit on the board with Utah association of Health underwriters and http://www.BenefitsManager.net for health insurance reform. Several interesting changes took place with H.B. 188 passage earlier this year that seems all too familiar on the federal level. The spirit of the bill allows private market place remedies. It essentially guarantees insurance providers a “no loss” or “no gain” over competing carriers in the insurance exchange portal which is http://www.UtahInsuranceExchange.info. On the surface it seems not to be attractive to participating carriers (voluntary at this point). But you have to understand the carriers’ goal is to cover their administration fees. That can be accomplished now. The other half of the equation is providers and their billing practices that need to be reformed. That is on the agenda. Keep an eye on Utah because the national health care debate seems much the same ground we have already covered.
    In http://www.UtahInsuranceExchange.info which is the beginning of a state sponsored program addresses issues on a local state level that the federal level might look at. Coming from an underwriting background I know where the dime falls. I am of the opinion that large waste occurs from providers billing for procedures that developed “no outcome”. Insurance carriers are not the only bad guys on the block. In most of our purchasing decisions….don’t we pay ONLY when we know that we will get a desired outcome? Why is it if you ask the doctor how much this test or procedure is he doesn’t know? Shouldn’t providers be held to a transparent cost standard?

  12. NPAlliance on June 17th, 2009 12:14 am

    Are you a healthcare professional who is committed to a robust public health plan option? Please join us in petitioning Congress!

    http://www.docsforapublicplanoption.org

    We are a diverse group of healthcare professionals and students of the health professions that support the choice of a public health insurance plan as an essential component of comprehensive health care reform this year.

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