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Health Care Watch

In a nearly hour-long speech to the American Medical Association yesterday, President Obama tried to persuade doctors that elements of his plan that some doctors think of as bitter medicine will, indeed, be good for them.

Robert Pear and Jackie Calmes write in the New York Times:

Opening a week in which health care will dominate attention in Congress, the president's speech on Monday was the latest example of an oft-used ploy to press his case: appearing before skeptical audiences, confident of his powers of persuasion but willing as well to say what his listeners do not want to hear.

Mr. Obama spoke just days after the A.M.A. had signaled opposition to his proposal for a public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers as part of a menu of choices, much like the one for members of Congress.

"The public option is not your enemy," Mr. Obama said. "It is your friend, I believe." Saying it would "keep the insurance companies honest," the president dismissed as "illegitimate" the claims of critics that a public insurance option amounts to "a Trojan horse for a single-payer system" run by the government.

Ceci Connolly writes in The Washington Post:

The president's good-news, bad-news message to the physicians marked what White House senior adviser David Axelrod described as a higher level of engagement by the president on his top domestic priority.

For months, Obama remained on the sidelines of the health-care debate because "he felt it was important to not be too proscriptive," Axelrod said in an interview. "Now we're into a different phase, where decisions are being made very quickly, so it's time to weigh in to a greater degree."

The Obama strategy... is to present each major stakeholder with an enticement in return for a bit of sacrifice.

Of course, it may not be all smooth sailing. Obama offered doctors support for efforts to reduce malpractice lawsuits -- but stopped short of endorsing a cap on awards. As Connolly writes:

James Rohack, the incoming AMA president, said physicians must receive some type of legal protection if they are going to be expected to reduce extraneous tests and treatments, as Obama urged.

"Unless we have protection in the courtroom for not ordering a test, we're going to order those additional tests," Rohack told reporters after the speech.

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 16, 2009; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
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Next: Obama's Iranian Dilemna


If you would like to help pressure Congress to pass single payer health care please join our voting bloc at:

Posted by: letsgobuffalo | June 16, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

If you have a set of real "best practices" guidelines, defensive tests won't be necessary - the guidelines will be the defense.

Posted by: dickdata | June 16, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


Posted by: JackSmith1 | June 16, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I think that on health care reform Obama is in a lose-lose situation. It's not clear to me exactly what the president actually wants, and what he's willing to accept.

But it's worse than that, because due to the fact that there are many powerful Democrats are no more in favor of a wholesale overhaul of the medical care system in the U.S., Obama will get nothing worthwhile, and will find himself expending political capital, time and effort for some cosmetic touch ups, that are meaningless or worse.

Bottom line: there are still many millions of Americans who think that there safer having key decisions on their medical care made by a corporate bureaucrat rather than a government bureaucrat, who believe, rightly or wrongly that any change in the system will be to their detriment and to the benefit of some undeserving "other."

As long as that is the mindset, the president should cut his losses and not risk eviscerating his presidency before he's been office one year.

Posted by: bfieldk | June 16, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

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