Dems Tout AMA, AARP Endorsements Of House Health Bill
ABC News: "Even as a wave of conservative protestors took over Capitol Hill, House Democrats' health care bill picked up the support of several influential organizations that could turn the tide in their favor among the most concerned groups: medical professionals and senior citizens. President Obama this afternoon made a surprise appearance at the daily White House press briefing to thank AARP and the American Medical Association for throwing their weight behind the House Democrats' health care bill" (Khan, 11/5).
"Democrats hailed the backing of the AMA, the nation's largest doctors' group, as especially significant, since its position had been in doubt," The Wall Street Journal reports. "But the group's statement of support was lukewarm, saying the measure is 'not the perfect bill.' AARP, the largest senior citizens' organization, officially endorsed the bill, citing the fact that it would help lower drug costs for seniors and make it easier for older Americans who don't yet qualify for Medicare to buy insurance policies."
The Journal reports that Obama said the AMA "would not be supporting it if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors They would not be with us if they believed that reform would in any way damage the critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship" (Bendavid and Adamy, 11/6).
The AMA's support comes with "a big blinking asterisk," Forbes reports. "Dr. James Rohack, the president of the doctors group, said on a conference call Thursday that the bill deserves support only if Congress also passes a separate bill that increases Medicare reimbursements to doctors, which are scheduled to be cut 21% per visit or procedure at the start of next year." Rohack added that the bill is "'not perfect, but it is consistent enough with our principles to warrant support,' echoing earlier statements that suggest the AMA believes some reform is better than the status quo." But "[l]eft open were two major issues: reforming the medical malpractice system and changing the formula that Medicare uses to determine how much to reimburse physicians" (Whelan, 11/5).
The Dallas Morning News: The AMA committed to support health reform efforts in May, based on the calculation that the organization "could help pass a sweeping health care overhaul while securing its own prized goals: caps on medical lawsuit awards and the repeal of a formula that annually threatens to cut Medicare payments to doctors. But the House health legislation that is headed to the floor Saturday addresses neither special issue head-on. The House will vote separately on a bill to change Medicare payments, but that legislation would add to the deficit and land in the Senate, which rejected such legislation last week." Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, an obstetrician and member of the AMA, says "they've hurt themselves They supported [the bill] too soon, and they didn't get the things they needed" (Michaels, 11/5).
Los Angeles Times: "The bill's endorsement by the doctors' and seniors' lobby groups -- in addition to support announced by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network -- helps counter mounting opposition among employer groups that are stepping up their advertising campaign against the bill" (Hook and Levey, 11/6).