Various Players Offer Views On Reform
Various news outlets examine the ideas and roles of various players in regard to health care reform.
The Dallas Morning News reports on the new American Medical Association President J. James Rohack, a Texas cardiologist: "If Congress finally manages to solve the crisis of U.S. health care, it will have something to do with the work of a tall, silver-haired Texan who splits his time between Washington and his home on a sprawling ranch."
"Last week, he became president of the American Medical Association, just as Congress ramps up efforts to overhaul the $2.6 trillion health care system and provide coverage to tens of millions of uninsured people. Like many health advocates, Rohack, 54, preaches that the moment is right for reform. But the AMA, which spent nearly $20 million to lobby Washington last year, has long resisted federal involvement in medicine, dating to President Lyndon Johnson's creation of Medicare in 1965. It has already laid down markers that it warns Congress not to cross, including an expansion of Medicare or a mandate that physicians participate in a new government-run insurance program. The AMA's anxiety over health reform was on display last week when President Barack Obama visited the group's annual meeting and urged its members to support a new public insurance plan."
The Dallas Morning News examined the AMA's support for "'health system reform,' provided it retains a place for private insurers and allows physicians to contract privately with patients." It also noted that "so far, Rohack and the AMA have stressed their cooperation with the White House. The group appears motivated by the fact that patients are unhappy with the current system and a concern they could be viewed as blocking reform" (Michaels, 6/21).
Meanwhile, the Buffalo News reports that "An informal survey by an advocacy coalition found that small business owners in New York state overwhelmingly support the idea of a 'public option' as part of a national health insurance reform effort, and are willing to pay to make 'quality, affordable coverage' available. The survey by New York Small Business United for Health Care reported that 73 percent of the business owners surveyed preferred a proposal with a public, government-run alternative to private insurance, versus 19 percent favoring an expansion of private market options. The owners said they are willing to pay a portion of their payroll towards supporting such an option, with 64 percent saying they would pay at least 4 percent to 7 percent to 'guarantee quality affordable coverage for themselves and employees'"
According to the survey, these business owners also" want a bigger public role for the government in general, with 80 percent supporting more public oversight of the insurance industry, versus 15 percent against, and 78 percent advocating that the government guarantee access to coverage, versus 13 percent against" (Epstein, 6/20).
The Los Angeles Times reports that "as lawmakers spar over ways to improve the health care system, however, it's worth keeping in mind the broad agreement among doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and consumer advocates about what needs to be fixed, and why it needs to be done now." The paper highlights "three fundamental and interrelated problems with healthcare in this country: It's too expensive, the results aren't as good as in other countries, and the insurance provided by government and the private sector leaves too many people uncovered" (6/22).