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Obama Pitches Health Care Reform to Doctors’ Group

BY Admin  June 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM EDT

Pres. Obama at AMA meeting; Getty Images

He asked physicians for their cooperation, saying, “I need your help, doctors, because to most Americans you are the health care system.”

Listen to the full speech here:

The president told attendees that he was open to requiring all Americans to have health insurance, with assistance for those who cannot afford it on their own.

He also told the doctors that the current system forces doctors to practice “excessive defensive medicine” because of fear of lawsuits, and that any reform must include a plan to reduce unnecessary medical tests and expenses. However, he told the attendees that he did not support putting a cap on malpractice lawsuits, something that the AMA has long advocated, because he believed it would be unfair to patients.

The president also made his case for including a public plan — a government-funded health insurance option for those who don’t have private insurance — in any health care reform legislation. Republican lawmakers oppose the public plan; the AMA has said it is opposed to a public plan that would require doctors to participate or would expand the use of Medicare pay rates.

President Obama told the doctors that he understood their concerns that such a plan would lower their overall reimbursement rates. But he said that those concerns would be addressed by reforms that focused on improved patient care and a new reimbursement system that was tied to patient outcomes rather than state and federal budgets.

Mr. Obama also reiterated that a public plan would not be a “Trojan horse” to bring in a single-payer health care system. He said that people should be wary of “scare tactics and fear-mongering” by critics who claim his plan will lead to socialized medicine.

“When you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this — they are not telling the truth,” he said.