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Obama Pitches Health Reform to Doctors

BY Lea Winerman  October 5, 2009 at 1:33 PM EST

President Obama Greets Doctors at the White House; Getty Images

Mr. Obama called the doctors, who had gathered from all 50 states, the most credible experts on American health care, and asked for their help in passing reform legislation.

“Every one of you here today took an oath when you entered the medical profession,” the president said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “It was not an oath that you would spend a lot of time on the phone with insurance companies. You took an oath so you could heal people. The reforms we’re proposing will help you live up to that oath.”

The attendees were members of Doctors for America, a group of physicianswho support the president’s health care reform efforts.

Mr. Obama touted some of the now-familiar aspects of his health reform plan, including creating a health insurance exchange marketplace where patients could shop for insurance, capping patient costs, and insurance industry reforms that would make it illegal for insurers to refuse customers based on pre-existing conditions.

The president did not address the issue of including a government-run public insurance option in the legislation, although news outlets are reporting that his aides have been testing compromise ideas for such a plan in behind-the-scenes negotiations with moderate Democrats in Congress.

The president’s pitch comes at the beginning of another busy week for Congress. On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee, the last of five congressional committees with jurisdiction in the area, finished considering its version of health care reform legislation.

This week, the panel is waiting to hear back on a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, and then plans to vote on the bill.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders will begin working to combine that legislation with another version from the Senate health committee. On the House side, Democratic leaders are also working to shape a final bill to bring to the floor.