Obama pitches healthcare reform to AMA

June 15, 2009 at 1:41 PM
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CHICAGO, June 15 (UPI) -- President Obama tackled the thorny issues of capping medical malpractice awards and public healthcare opinion Monday before the American Medical Association.

"I'm not advocating caps on malpractice awards, which I believe can be unfair to people who've been wrongfully harmed. I do think we need to explore a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first, let doctors focus on practicing medicine and encourage broader use of evidence-based guidelines," Obama told the physicians group. "I want to work with the AMA so we can scale back excessive defensive medicine reinforcing our current system of more treatment rather than better care."

Just as important as containing the costs of healthcare, "we must also ensure that every American can get coverage that they can afford," Obama said. "We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men women and children."

Obama said he said healthcare reform is simple: "Fix what's broken and build on what works"

He repeated his pledge that if people like their healthcare program, they can keep it. But people who don't like their coverage or don't have insurance can participate in a program called the Health Insurance Exchange, "a one-stop shop for (selecting a) healthcare plan."

Among the choices would be "a public option that will give people a broader range of choices and inject competition into the healthcare market (that forces) waste out of the system and keeps the insurance companies honest," Obama said.

"As I stated earlier, the reforms we propose are to reward best practices, focus on patient care, not the current piece-work reimbursement," he said. "What we seek is more stability and a healthcare system on a sound financial footing."

Obama drew warm applause when he spoke of moving medical records from a paper to an electronic-based system, and prevention and wellness programs that must be included in any healthcare reform package. He also was applauded enthusiastically when he discussed re-examining the cost medical education as well as providing as much information as possible available to physicians so they can provide the best care possible for their patients.

"Replicating best practices, incentivizing excellence, closing cost disparities -- any legislation sent to my desk that does not achieve these goals does not earn the title of reform," Obama said.

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