AMA President: Opposition to public plan is motivated by desire to ‘protect the health insurance industry.’

A week ago, the American Medical Association declared its opposition to a public health insurance option, a key plank of President Obama’s health reform plan. Obama subsequently addressed the AMA membership directly, explaining his proposal and telling them that “the public option is not your enemy, it is your friend.” It appears that Obama’s argument may have compelled the AMA to rethink its position. The organization is now concerned that media reports are portraying them as “opposed to reform” and too favorable towards the insurance industry:

obamaamaOn Tuesday, the American Medical Association considered a resolution that would have opposed any new public plan that would “risk the elimination of a healthy competitive market for private health insurance.”

Before its delegates moved toward final passage, AMA president Nancy H. Nielsen intervened and asked delegates to focus on what they could support. […]

“I do not believe it’s the position of this House of Delegates of the American Medical Association to protect the health insurance industry,” Nielsen said, prompting loud applause from the members.

“I think the health insurance industry pays a lot of money to people who can protect them.”

“That was about creating an impression that we are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution,” said Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.