Obama sells his health care reform, calls its most important issue

June 16th, 2009 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Chicago, June 16 (IANS) President Barack Obama is lobbying hard for universal coverage and end of medical red tape, calling an overhaul of America’s ailing health care system the most important issue for the nation’s long-term economic stability.
Health care reform should mean all Americans can get coverage while allowing doctors to heal patients instead of being bureaucrats, he told the doctors’ advocacy organization American Medical Association in Chicago Monday.

He acknowledged the concerns of doctors that reforms could bring a government-heavy system that would dictate how patients get treated and how much physicians get paid, CNN reported. But he called such thinking wrong.

Obama urged all players-doctors, patients, insurance companies, drug companies and the government-to contribute to a workable system that would provide coverage for the 46 million uninsured Americans while reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

“You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers,” Obama said to a standing ovation at the conference in Chicago, Illinois. “You entered this profession to be healers, and that’s what our health care system should let you be.”

Obama has made health care reform a top priority of his administration, and Congress will consider at least three proposals in coming weeks to address an issue that deeply divides Democrats and Republicans.

His plan includes reducing tax deductions for high-income Americans. Another funding idea under consideration is taxing the medical benefits of employer-provided health coverage, which the Obama administration opposes but has not ruled out entirely.

The AMA represents a powerful constituency of US physicians, and its support is considered important in getting a bill through Congress. The AMA acknowledges the need for reforms but opposes any public option plan that forces physicians to participate, expands the fiscally challenged Medicare programme for senior citizens or pays Medicare rates.

A proposal from Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, a longtime health care reform proponent, includes a public option as one choice for consumers. Republican leaders adamantly oppose any public option, complaining it would lead to an eventual government takeover of health care similar to the cradle-to-grave coverage in Canada and England.

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