Today, President Obama plans to address the American Medical Association (AMA) to discuss his future plans regarding healthcare. His plans intend to make the healthcare industry in the United States–one that represents roughly 18% of the U.S. economy–more efficient through a government-sponsored insurance plan while not adding to the federal deficit. This government-sponsored insurance plan will not replace private coverage; rather, it will work alongside it where individuals do not have to change their coverage if they are happy with it. While much of the country is jumping at the idea of a government-sponsored insurance program, the medical field and some Congressmen are weary of the unintended but possible effects.
President Obama declared that part of his plan to give the healthcare field a face lift involves many reforms. Amongst those reforms include putting a federal limit on malpractice suits as they are a cause of high healthcare costs; taking greater advantage of electronic records and assessments of procedures and treatments; and forcing an increased efficiency in Medicare services. Additionally, he stated that “affordable healthcare for the American people is tied directly to insisting upon fiscal responsibility.”
Despite the desire for change, the medical field may not be prepared to go under the knife, a sentiment shared by Congressmen as well. According to Nancy Nielsen, president of the AMA, physicians “oppose any public plan that forces physicians to participate.” As a result of this sentiment, many have suggested that President Obama’s current healthcare plan, even with a Blue House and Senate, would not pass. Needless to say, Republicans are not enthusiastic about a government-run healthcare system, either.
Some senators–including Senator Kent Conrad, a Democrat of North Dakota–are drafting legislation that would transfer the responsibility from the government to non-profit cooperatives, which would provide insurance for the uninsured. Non-profit cooperatives would negotiate with healthcare providers for lower rates and would act like private plans.
Regardless of what happens at the AMA meeting, President Obama will have to appeal to the AMA whose support he desperately needs to pass his healthcare reform. He will have to convince them that physicians will not lose their discretion, compensation, and freedom to practice medicine with a State-sponsored health insurance program, a task that may not be easy to achieve.
For more information, please call Abby Pendleton, Esq., Robert Iwrey, Esq., Adrienne Dresevic, Esq., Carey F. Kalmowitz, Esq. or Jessica L. Gustafson, Esq. at (248) 996-8510 or visit The HLP website.