“[W]hen you cut through all of the noise and all of the distractions that are out there, I think what’s most telling is that some of the people who are most supportive of [health care] reform are the very medical professionals who know the health care system best, the doctors and nurses of America,” President Obama told the 150 medical professional assembled in the Rose Garden for an event highlighting the medical community’s support for health care reform.
Obama urged the doctors to speak out on behalf of reform. “You are the people who know this system best, you are the experts, nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do,” he said. “If you’re willing to speak out strongly on behalf of the things you care about, and what you see each and every day as you’re serving patients all across the country, I’m confident we are going to get health reform passed this year.”
Responding to Obama, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) — who spent his summer running a misleading campaign to trick physicians into opposing health care reform — and former AMA President Dr. Donald Palmisano held a conference call dismissing physicians’ support for reform. Price said he was “concerned that a hand-picked group were applauding a government take-over of health care.” A “real cross-section would not have been applauding government takeover of health care.”
Doctors may not applaud a “government-takeover,” but a “real cross-section” of physicians does support the public option and Medicare expansion. One survey of over 2,000 doctors found that “whether they lived in southern regions of the United States or traditionally liberal parts of the country…whether they were salaried or they were practice owners, regardless of whether they were specialists or primary care providers,” a majority supported a public option:
- 73 percent of physicians: supported some form of a public option, either alone or in combination with private insurance options
- 62 percent of AMA respondents: expressed support for some form of a public option, either alone or in combination with private insurance options
- 58 percent of physicians: support Medicare expansions to individuals 55 to 64 years of age
Price insisted that “thousands” of physicians “are coming to Washington, expressing their concern about the President’s program.” A reporter on the call reminded Price and Palmisano that the American Medical Association has endorsed the House health bill — which includes a robust public plan. Palmisano responded that they had not consulted him before making the endorsement.