Obama to address AMA in Chicago

June 14, 2009 8:56:44 PM PDT
President Barack Obama comes to Chicago Monday, and he may not receive a warm welcome home.Obama is scheduled to address delegates at the American Medical Association conference. His visit comes as lawmakers begin debating the president's proposal to overhaul the U.S. health care system. It is expected to be an uphill battle for the president.

In his weekly address to the nation Saturday, President Obama began to explain how he proposes to pay for the up to $1 trillion it will take to overhaul the nation's health care system.

Sunday, both supporters and detractors of Obama's plan took to the airwaves, and though both sides agree that something needs to be done, their approach could not be more different.

When Obama visits Chicago, he could find a much less friendly welcome than he's used to when coming home. A tough crowd awaits him both inside and out of the Hyatt Regency hotel where he was set to speaks Monday morning, addressing this year's American Medical Association conference.

"If more Americans are insured, we can cut payments that help hospitals treat patients without health insurance. If the drug makers pay their fair share, we can cut government spending on prescription drugs," the president said.

The devil lies in the details. The president proposes to create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. He says it will force them to keep prices low. And that is something the insurance industry, Republicans in Congress and the AMA call a non-starter, although some are more careful with their words than others.

"We don't think this is the best way," said AMA President Nancy Nielsen. "That doesn't mean we oppose, it means we would like to talk about perhaps other options."

"It would be terrible for hospitals, awful for doctors, and ultimately, it would be a disaster for the people in America," said Mitt Romney, a former Republican presidential candidate.

The president's supporters in Congress disagree. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said on a Sunday talk show that the current system is unsustainable.

"You know, the president has said, we've all said, if you like your current health insurance, your plan, you're going to be able to keep it. But, we need to fix some things in the system. The costs are out of control," said the Democratic senator.

But even as the president gets ready to explain how he will pay for his plan, the battle for and against it has already hit the airwaves.

Two Senate committees take up health care reform in the coming week. But already, a second option, one that could appeal to moderate Republicans is taking shape on Capitol Hill. It would involve a plan financed by the government, but it would operate independent.

Currently, the president does not have the required 60 votes to even bring his plan up for a vote.


Load Comments