[Posted by Karl]
Pres. Obama is going to Chicago next week to address the American Medical Association on his planned government takeover of the US healthcare system, but the AMA has just announced it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan:
[I]n comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Medical Association said: “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.”
If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the group said, “the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”
While not the political behemoth it once was, the association probably has more influence than any other group in the health care industry. Lawmakers seek its opinion and support whenever possible…
The group has historically had a strong lobbying operation, supplemented by generous campaign donations.
But the opposition of the AMA — and doctors generally — is a major obstacle to Democrats’ plans for a much more basic reason.
Doctors have patients. Those patients generally have a relationship of trust with their doctors. You know who patients do not trust? Politicians.
People generally tend to think that doctors are honest and ethical and that Congressmen are not. This split can even be seen on the issue of the Comparative Effectiveness Research that Democrats see as the first step in rationing healthcare in a government-dominated system:
A majority of Americans — 55 percent — told pollsters recently they would trust an independent board of scientists to evaluate competing medical treatments and to recommend which ones should be covered by insurers.
That may seem like good news for Congress, which just allocated $1.1 billion for research into the relative effectiveness of various medicines and medical devices. But the same poll, conducted in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation, National Public Radio, and Harvard University, also reveals only 41 percent of Americans would trust the scientists on the panel if they were “appointed by the federal government.”
And that is before people find out what government-run CER would mean for patients seeking cancer treatments, virtual colonoscopies, and so on.
Persuasion requires credibility. Doctors have it; Congressmen don’t. If doctors say a government-run plan would ultimately restrict patient choice and explode costs, people are likely to believe them. That is one of the reasons why Obama is feeling the need to take his medicine show on the road. However, with his approval ratings turning negative on budget and spending issues, it is far from clear that Obama can beat back America’s doctors.