AMA Reports On Obama’s Comments At Annual Meeting

The AMA has sent out the following email to members following Barack Obama’s meeting with them yesterday. While there are bound to be disagreements between the AMA and the Obama administration on the specifics of health care reform, this email (along with the considerable support for reform by many physicians) demonstrates a change in attitude by the AMA when compared with past opposition. It is a sign of recognition that the current insurance system is seriously damaged and needs reform.

eVoice® Alert

June 15, 2009

Obama to AMA: I need your help

Learn more about the AMA’s stance on health system reform.

In an earnest appeal to the nation’s physicians earlier today, President Barack Obama pledged to work with the AMA to reform the nation’s health care system in a way that works best for doctors and patients. The president’s comments came during an address at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, which is taking place this week in Chicago.

Obama, the first U.S. president to address the House since Ronald Reagan in 1983, commended the AMA for joining with other health care stakeholders to help reduce the rate of growth in health care spending by 1.5 percent over the next decade. And he detailed ways—such as covering the uninsured, making insurance more affordable, increasing the value physicians receive from health care spending and enhancing prevention and wellness for all patients—to make that happen.

“[We need] to control the spiraling cost of health care,” Obama said during a special session of the House of Delegates that drew several standing ovations. “And to do that, we’re going to need the help of the AMA.”

Calling the $2 trillion spent annually on health care a “ticking time bomb” for the federal government and unsustainable for the nation, the president stressed the urgency of instituting comprehensive health system reform that provides coverage for all Americans.

“I will listen to you and work with you to pursue reform that works for you,” Obama said. “Together we can make health care work better for patients and doctors alike.”

View a transcript of Obama’s address to the House of Delegates.

View coverage of Obama’s speech by American Medical News.

Learn more about the Annual Meeting.

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  1. 1
    b-psycho says:

    Here’s a couple criticisms of the emerging health care plan I’ve seen recently.  Was wondering your thoughts, if any.
    To speak for myself, I really have no reason for confidence that any solution that can actually get a political consensus won’t make things worse.  Though, contrary to the Right, the current system is not “free-market”, but a cartel, so I have no sympathy for the status quo either.  If continued government involvement is inevitable, & I have to be pragmatic about it or just say nothing, then we might as well just put in single-payer and be done with it.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    These people you linked to have very little understanding of health care and insurance. I’ve already replied to a number of posts along these lines–check out the health care category.

  3. 3
    b-psycho says:

    Ron: was more referring to their “is it a public good or not” argument & note of the AMA’s interest.
    I know you’ve discussed single-payer, I was just saying if forced to choose I’d rather have that than something more complicated (and possibly with a mandate).

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Strong arguments could certainly be made that single payer is simpler and makes more sense. Regardless it isn’t politically feasible. The insurance industry would put up too much of a fight against something which would totally knock them out of the field, while a hybrid plan still leaves them with a profitable industry, even if the rules change. A lot of voters would also be upset if told they had no choice but to give up their current insurance and go into a government plan.

  5. 5
    b-psycho says:

    I should clarify that the mandate I referred to was within some of the proposed plans of making buying insurance a requirement (which I’d oppose anyway), not within single-payer of requiring people participate.
    I’m not advocating for either, mind you.  My actual view on the issue I already realize is futile to implement.
    Apologies if this appears twice, your site seems to be loading awkward today.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Traffic is extremely heavy today due to the Letterman stuff, probably causing the slow loading.

    Unfortunately it looks like there will probably be an individual mandate. Politically it has become hard to stop as most Democrats support it even if Obama had opposed it, and the insurance industry is pushing heavily for it. With the insurance industry pushing for it, Republicans might use a mandate to attack the overall plan but won’t actually draw any lines in the sand there.

  7. 7
    Wayne says:

    While I find the idea of a single payer system frightening, and I think that by giving in on mandates (his stance against them was one of the issues that allowed Obama to outpace Hillary in the campaign season) he is caving to far, I also find many of the numbers thrown around ridiculous. 46 million are un-insured? What is the source of that number? Does it count illegal aliens? Does it include people that have the means to purchase insurance, but at the current time don’t see the need? Estimates put the total number of people in those two categories at about 18-20 million, or better than 40% of the total estimate.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    These “estimates” of 18-20 million come from people who want to pretend there is no problem.

    It is unfortunate that Obama wasn’t able to hold out on mandates, but keep in mind that it is the insurance industry which has made that inevitable.

  9. 9
    Wayne says:

    Even if we take the people who can afford insurance, but choose not to buy it off the table, that still leaves the question of illegal aliens off the table. Both Britian and Canada have strict citizenship tests included in their single payer system. Even Mexico, the source of a large percentage of those in the US illegally, doesn’t provide free health coverage to non-citizens. Why are we including non-citizens when we talk about uninsured?

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s just more right wing xenophobia. The issue is not about non-citizens. We have a serious problem with citizens who cannot afford insurance, people who had insurance but are losing it (due to loss of jobs or a growing number of employers who drop coverage), and tens of millions who are under-insured. This leads to both limited access to care and a tremendous number of bankruptcies per year, even among those who have insurance.

    Talk of people who choose not to buy insurance and non-citizens are just meaningless distractions from right-wingers who want to pretend there is no problem.

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