August 16th, 2009
11:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Doctors', seniors' advocacy groups defend health-care overhaul

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Leaders of organizations representing America's doctors and senior citizens on Sunday defended proposals by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders to overhaul the nation's ailing health-care system.

Appearing on "FOX News Sunday," Dr. J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, and John Rother of AARP - formerly the American Association of Retired Persons - called a comprehensive overhaul necessary. Their support is a reversal from past opposition to proposed health-care reform by both organizations.

Republican opponents have called health-care proposals so far too sweeping and unnecessary, but Rohack and Rother said the integration of the system requires a broad approach.

"There are some moving parts that if you just do one and don't do the other, you're going to have unintended consequences," said Rohack, head of the nation's largest doctors' advocacy group.

Rother, executive vice president of policy and strategy for the largest senior citizens' advocacy group, said properly addressing excessive health-care costs and waste requires addressing both health insurance coverage and how health-care treatment is delivered.

Both men rejected accusations that a health-care overhaul would bring rationing of health treatment based on bureaucratic measures such as cost and economic productivity of patients.

"There's a myth that rationing doesn't occur right now," Rohack said, noting that pregnancy can currently be denied for some health insurance coverage as a pre-existing condition.

"That's why this bill is so important," Rohack said. "It gets rid of rationing happening right now" and leaves decisions to patients and doctors.

Rother said the health-care overhaul will bring huge cost savings by eliminating waste and fraud in the system, including the Medicare program for senior citizens.

"We don't see rationing in this plan," he said. "What see are efficiencies that are going to improve care, not deny care."

Rohack also condemned claims by some Republicans that a provision in a bill before the House of Representatives would lead so-called "death panels" encouraging euthanasia of senior citizens.

"That's absolutely wrong, it's a falsehood," he said, adding that the provision was intended to provide government support for consultations between patients and their doctors.

Repeated spreading of the false "death panel" rumor by conservative commentators and some Republican politicians prompted emotional opposition at town hall meetings across the country.

Senate negotiators on a compromise bill say they have dropped the provision from their proposal due to potential misinterpretation of the intent.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Ricky in Raleigh

    If part of the cost for the proposed healthcare reform can be financed by eliminating waste and fraud in Medicare, then why isn't that a priority right now? What are they waiting for?

    August 16, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  2. Claudia in Houson

    A healthcare reform bill has not passed, it is still open for debate and changes. A closed mind that just says NO isn't open for debate or discussion, don't be one of those people. Expand your knowledge by reading, listening and making intelligent informed decisions for yourself, you might learn something.

    August 16, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. lc from ohio

    I find the protests stunning. I can agree that yes the bill might need some revising but it is almost shocking to me the level of stupidity that these protests have reached. WE need healthcare reform! . . .if anyone thinks they don't just try losing your job and having them end healthcare the day after they walk you out of their place of business because sales are too bad to pay everyone on the payroll. Take a few months of the after-effects of that and then tell me we don't need some kind of health care reform. God help us if we have another "bush-like administration" ever again.

    August 16, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. blembergmd

    I can,as a practicing physician,assure you that a great number of MDs in the US are in favor of health care reform, but NOT this one. Seeing that the head of the AMA is on board has caused me to cancel my membership.He is out of touch with a large number if not majority of his membership.

    August 16, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. jane

    I think doctors will do well to support this bill. They've lost much of their professional autonomy to the accountants and executives of the obscenely wealthy insurance industry. The cost of health care hold enormous power over our everyday lives, whether we are sick or well.

    August 16, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    TORT REFORM was passed a few years ago in Missouri.

    1. Physician insurance payments went down.

    2. Individual insurance payments and deductibles went up.

    3. Insurance company profits soared from 2B to 12B per year in 7 years.

    4. Individuals still being dropped or exempted from payment or from procedures because INSURANCE COMPANIES RULE THIS COUNTRY and pay our representatives to keep them in power.

    August 16, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. D. Tree

    If we don't fix health Insurance this year, we will NEVER be able to balance the budget or fix the deficit. Most of our budget goes to military and Health Care... we can't CUT our way out of this!

    We need to change the system so EVERY American has access to the same choices our Senators get: that includes a Public Option.

    August 16, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. FDR

    Face it, Democrats are all facists at heart. Remember, contrary to the myth taught in public schools, Hitler was a "National Socialist," from the far left, just like Stalin!

    Today's Dems, led by Obama, are just more of the same!

    August 16, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. Jill-IN

    I support healthcare reform. I do not believe the only people who should have access to health care providers are those who are fortunate enough to be on a good employer insurance plan. Frankly some of those, we find, do fall short in terms of what is covered and far to heavy in what is excluded, not to mention pre-existing condition exclusions. So, if you are not one of the lucky ones on a large employer group plan, what choices do you have. Just try to go out and get into a health plan without an employer-employee status, or affiliation in a large association that offers health coverage to a group, and better not have any pre-existings. The best health insurance in the U.S. is Medicare. Many of our senators and congressmen and their families are enrolled in a special version of it – but they don't want it for you if you need it. Health insurance companies that sell employer group insurance and association group insurance make profit, pay sales commissions so must support an agent system, and charge for administration of the plans. In fact, they charge much more than Medicare has to pay to have its plan administered by third party administrators which are contracted and provided by insurance company TPA's. They do a good job of administering Medicare and charge less for the administrative service than insurance companies charge for the employer group plans because of the commissions and profit they must derive from those to pay executive bonuses and benefits.

    August 16, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Truly Informed Florida

    For all you people who insist that the government has no place in the health of its citizens – "Keep the Government off our backs" mantra have very short memories. Remember Terri Schiavo (MARCH 2005) when even the Shrub interrupted his vacation in Texas (EGADS!) to put his two cents worth into the argument. Keep the gov off our backs but how about out of our bedrooms and hospital rooms?

    August 16, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. jim

    If the forces of reason can just hold out until next year, the impetus for this "health care reform" nonsense will die down and, like it was in the 90's, the movement will be relegated to (at least a temporary) oblivion,

    August 16, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  12. Tina

    "How about Tort reform? Why is every part of the medical field being ripped apart and reformed EXCEPT Tort?? Could it be the lawyers/politicans just can't let go of a large source of their income?"

    It's because all American have the right to sue; it's the idiots in the jury who are awarding huge sums of money – where is the BS detector in the public (yes, juries are made up of YOU AND ME) when some slick lawyer convinces them that a woman who spills hot coffee in her lap deserves millions. Lawyers exist because we need them, and the 'slick' lawyer I referred to is bound by law to do everything in their capability to win for their client. As much as I despise the profession (and I have worked in law firms for 13+ years), I recognize their place in society.

    Get over the Tort reform argument – once people are being treated before life-threatening illnesses occur, there will naturally be less lawsuits because less procedures will be needed. Even the middle-class insured forego seeing the doctor due to the costs and wait until things get dire (my deductible is $1,000 on top of the $3,600 per year in premiums, the co-pays and prescription costs – most of the time its a choice between medication and eating).

    August 16, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. yuri

    Republicans' reprehensible recalcitrance in reformin' healthcare needs further reproachment. We have not heard one forceful GOP opinion for an overhaul as yet. One fails to fathom what the real reason is.

    August 16, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    If you carefully reed this, both the AMA and AARP state reform is neccessary. I have yet to read where they state a government takeover is! I also doubt either of them read any of the 8 house drafts. If I read the bill, the first thing out of my mouth is I"VE READ THE BILL AND.....

    August 16, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    If you carefully read this, both the AMA and AARP state reform is neccessary. I have yet to read where they state a government takeover is! I also doubt either of them read any of the 8 house drafts. If I read the bill, the first thing out of my mouth is I"VE READ THE BILL AND.....

    August 16, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. janey

    Sounds like everybody is onboard, well, except Republicans and insurance companies. Ha!

    August 16, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  17. Ellen

    Once again it's only the GOP that is against reform. Typical Republican stance. . . . .

    August 16, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  18. sunshine

    all America needs health care.

    August 16, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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