Physicians react to Obama's AMA address

June 15, 2009 (CHICAGO) Many of the doctors at the conference say that changes do need to come to health care but they have been at odds with previous attempts to reform it, notably with the Clinton administration in the early 1990's.

This time around, doctors are more encouraged by President Obama's efforts but many are still taking a wait and see approach.

"We will partner with anyone whose best interest is in the best interest of our patients," said Dr. Randy Easterling.

Dr. Randy Easterling practices family medicine in Vicksburg, Mississppi and has joined thousands of other doctors who, once a year, take off their lab coats, roll up their sleeves and discuss the challenges of their profession.

"What's misunderstood in more cases than not is that the AMA says yes, we want reform, but it's got to be certain criteria that's in the best interest of our patients," said Dr. Randy Easterling.

That's criteria that Easterling says he did not hear in President Obama's speech on overhauling the health care system.

Several doctors said they were impressed with the president's message, although his statement that he does not believe in malpractice award caps drew some jeers.

New York physician Dr. David Hannan says the high cost of malpractice lawsuits is hampering access to medical care in that state.

"In New York, even though we train more students than any other state in the country, our doctors are leaving New York especially in a rural area up state like mine," said Dr. David Hannan.

While doctors at the AMA conference were also concerned about President Obama's proposal of a public insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, some future doctors threw their support behind it.

Medical students at UIC were part of a group advocating for an insurance policy that anyone can afford.

"We don't want to see a medicine where another patients comes to us and says, I can't adhere to the prescription that you've given me because the drugs or the surgery costs too much and my insurance won't cover it," said Ben Goold, UIC medical student.

President Obama said a health care exchange would be set up to provide additional options for the uninsured. He will make his case to the nation at large in a campaign to get a bill passed by the end of his first year in office.

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