Thursday, June 11, 2009

UPDATED: American Medical Association comes out against "the public option" in health care ... and then waffles

From NYT:

WASHINGTON — As the health care debate heats up, the American Medical Association is letting Congress know that it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan, which President Obama and many other Democrats see as an essential element of legislation to remake the health care system.

The opposition, which comes as Mr. Obama prepares to address the powerful doctors’ group on Monday in Chicago, could be a major hurdle for advocates of a public insurance plan. The A.M.A., with about 250,000 members, is America’s largest physician organization.

While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” It is now reacting, for the first time, to specific legislative proposals being drafted by Congress.

Funny, people keep telling me that all doctors are adamantly on-board for single-payer health care.

UPDATE: Of course, within hours and under pressure from who knows where, the AMA has now done not quite a 180, but at least a 90-degree turn on its original position:

“Today's New York Times story creates a false impression about the AMA's position on a public plan option in health care reform legislation. 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 the public plan that are currently under discussion in Congress. This includes a federally chartered co-op health plan or a level playing field option for all plans. The AMA is working to achieve meaningful health reform this year and is ready to stand behind legislation that includes coverage options that work for patients and physicians.”

Which should explain the deadly seriousness and the high stakes involved in this debate to everybody on all sides.


Brian Shields said...

hmm.. picture what is going on with Happy Harry's with doctor visit reimbursements.

State budget crunches, lowers cost of reimbursements to doctors in a "shared sacrifice" scheme, hundreds of doctors flee system, drop the program, or "Go Galt" completely into early retirement.

The state can't handle medicaid, we want it to control all of the medical needs for everyone? Just imagine this times 50 as it goes nationwide. California can't afford it's Medicaid program, trimming eligibility, coverage, and costs.

Nancy Willing said...

AMA has begun to reverse its harsh position already...

tom said...

A variant of the Happy Harry's scenario is already playing out with doctors. A recent survey by The Physician's Foundation finds that nearly half of primary care doctors plan to reduce or eliminate their practices in the next three years. Among the reasons cited are: too much non-clinical paperwork; difficulty getting reimbursed; and too much government regulation.