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. Jeff

    John Rother of AARP did say health care reform is needed. He also said AARP is NOT supporting any of the Obama bills- watch the interview!
    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?

    August 16, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. James L.

    I believe 'everyone' is in favor of health care reform. Please do not insult my intelligence nor my right to question things that are unclear or seem 'fishy'. Absolutely 'no one', including the President of the United States can tell me what the final product will be or how it will be interpreted by those that are tasked to write the details. There are no provisions or safeguards for us against 'accidental' incorrect details/instructions. Once the President signs the bill into law, we have missed our last chance to change of reform health care in this country. Bad or limited processes in Medicare and current care were written by the same people who will be tasked to do the same for this health care 'law'. Their poor writing and refusal to fix what is broken, will lead to the same fraud, waste, and abuse that we already have.

    August 16, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Gerry

    I am a member of the AARP but I do not agree with Mr. Rother. I want health care reform but I just don't like the way things are going right now. I have been reading the bill and I have some real reservations about some of it.

    August 16, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Joe Independent

    We are already paying for those people that do not have health insurance. Every time one of them go to the emergency room and can't afford to pay, it adds to our current health care costs.

    Allowing un-insured people to obtain affordable health insurance may actually reduce our costs. If people have heath insurance, they may need less care because their conditions will not become chronic and will be more easily treated by a doctor. in the office.

    August 16, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Tell us something we havent known for years

    AARP is the biggest scam ever pulled off on the American people.They dont get taxed,yet make a fortune as an Insurance Company.

    August 16, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. steven j stevens

    the medicare and ssi could be made solvent by simply hanging a 1% sales tax on all sales transactions...plus restore the to the people the money lost because of the Bush tax cuts.....i a senior on ssi and medicare have yet t o have a complaint about my medicare and know of no other seniors that have any negitive feelings about medicare....

    August 16, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  7. catmom

    Hopefully reasonable voices will start to be heard over the screaming ranting and raving that we have heard from the right wing for the past few weeks.

    I'm afraid though that they are adding more fuel to the fire. Today listening to the Sunday News shows I notice a disturbing trend. Republicans are now vilifying Medicare. They are saying it is a program that doesn't work. They are saying that Democrats plan to destroy parts of Medicare in order to fund health care for others. I even heard Dick Army say something about people receiving letters saying that if they don't enroll in Medicare, they would lose their Social Security benefits. Now I sure hope I misinterpreted what he said but I was sure that is what I heard. They know that senior citizens love their Medicare and do not want to give it up. They also know that seniors are easily scared as we have seen in the town hall meetings. Is this what they are up to? I mean we already know that Republicans don't like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or any other Social program, why would they want to save them now when they think they have people behind them?

    August 16, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    To anyone who still thinks that health care reform includes a "death panel," please read Page 426 of the House Bill.

    This section of the proposed bill talks about living will consultations with the patient's practitioner, the cost of which this bill would cover.
    This kind of advanced planning greatly assists patients, their families and their health care professionals. Anyone who has ever had to deal with a dying family member knows that honoring the patient's wishes regarding palliative care, hospice provisions and end-of-life treatment is extremely helpful and comforting.

    There are no death panels. To say otherwise is a lie.

    August 16, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Lori in St Pete

    By having the "death panels" removed from the bill, sarah palin and the insurance corporation-sponsored party of "NO" have begun the first step to abolishing living wills. It's their intention to keep us alive against our will, and we just hopped onto that slippery slope.

    August 16, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    I don't want my taxes to pay for others health care seems to be the new republican mantra . . .

    Amusing how self centered the christians become in their willingness to push Jesus and HIS basic teachings out of the their way to achieve their own individual wants.

    BTW, we ALL pay for the uninsured right now. Our premiums are increased for every uninsured person who uses emergency care, because said institutions are run by health corporations. These corporations don't just write off the costs to treat the uninsured. We are charged more for OUR services.

    August 16, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Steve from TN

    Leave Afganistan now and pay for health care fair reform. There is absolutely no reason an insurance agent should be raking in hundreds of thousands of bucks. THEN their policy holders get hosed when they have a claim because of illness. These agents live like kings, with their children in line to take over after they retire to a life of luxury paid for by chumps who trusted them.

    August 16, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. joe

    I do not understand how there can be so many interpretations of the points in this bill and that, in my opinion, is the most worrisome issue of all. Mr. Obama claims he will not ration, he will not dictate end of life care, he will not tap our bank accounts, but many reputable news services have in fact listed exact text from the document to the contrary. I believe once we let the government in, they will do what they want because the language is so vague. Therefore, with a bill that seems to have been rushed and a President which tried to bully it through the approval process in addition to language that leaves so much room for interpretation I can not understand how the public should support this bill and I believe it should NOT be passed.

    August 16, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    While malpractice insurance premiums are a large and up-front cost for health care providers, another huge component of our current health care system is the exorbitant annual salaries of the insurance company CEOs (averaging about $14 million), along with the high cost of administrative overhead (averaging about 30%, as opposed to Medicare's 4%-6% overhead).

    These issues should also be addressed. Bad medicine results when profit drives medical decisions.

    August 16, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Benefit limits tied to the inflation index will guarantee that compensation for medical procedures are not too high.

    It may lead to the lowering of prices of private insurance, since they'll have to compete in the marketplace (and their CEOs won't be able to make as much money as they do now); it will not lead to rationing of medical care.

    August 16, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  15. A Southern Lady

    I have lost all respect for the once-proud Republican Party. They have managed to muddy-up the waters on health care reform to the place that people do not know what to believe. Their half-truths, distortions, play-on-words and down right lies, coupled with the shameful talk coming from talk radio, have truly distorted the picture of what the President is trying to accomplish FOR the American people.
    The one thing I am sure of is the drug and insurance companies will continue to donate very, very large sums of money to the Republican lawmakers as they are doing exactly what these companies wanted them to do and that is to defeat healthcare. This allows drug companies to charge us outlandings prices for drugs that are sold in other countrys at a fraction of the cost and the insurance companies to only insure the most healthy of citizens leaving the elderly and those with pre-exsisting condiditons out in the cold. Congratulations Republicans, you are doing a great job of destroying a very much-needed program. Every one of you should hang your heads in shame!

    August 16, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Rhetorical Questions

    Americans need to first agree upon the premises for healthcare reform, otherwise ObamaCare, HillaryCare, etc are doomed for failure.

    Can we all agree answers and solutions to the following questions?
    1. Does every US resident deserve unlimited and unfettered medical care whether or not one can pay for it???
    2. Are profits in the healthcare industry and health insurance industry evil and immoral???
    3. If one pays for private insurance, is one entitled to unlimited and unfettered health services???
    4. If one is using Medicare, is one entitled to unlimited and unfettered health services???
    5. Is every life worth the same in terms of medical care???

    August 16, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Robert New Concord, ohio

    Part of Health insurance reform could be a no fault insurance system that limits the amount of liability for injury. The flip side of that could be punishment for negligence such as loss of license to practice!

    August 16, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. eolufemi

    The most frustrating part of this debates is that none of the opposition has articulated specific issues that they with the proposals themselves.

    We keep hearing about government take-overs and death panels, and after having these issues debunked, they continue to babble on about them.

    I want to know why government services like the post office can compete with UPS and the like without driving them out of business, yet a public option primarily serving the poor and sick would automatically drive insurance companies out of business?

    And, for those that continue talking about tort reform, how does needing tort reform preclude us from needing to better regulate the insurance industry and increase access for the uninsured?

    How is reducing the number of deductions people making over 250k take to the same level of the middle class hurt the wealthy?

    Finally, what are we going to do when medicare runs out of money because we didn't do anything to sure up the system when we could...don't tell me we're going to blame Obama?

    August 16, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Buster

    What a one sided article. AARP supports it so it can sell more insurance. The doctors don't support it since they will have to work harder for less money. Let's all insure the illegals so we have less to insure Americans. Liberals are clueless.

    August 16, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. taxedmore

    Nobody cares how sick I am. I am sick of paying for other peoples food, sick of paying for other peoples rent, sick of paying for other peoples cell phone, sick of paying for other peoples Medicaid, sick of paying for other peoples spending money (SSI, TANF, etc.) and I sure as he11 don't want to pay for any more of their health care.

    August 16, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Tony from Michigan

    I have a solution!
    Get rid of Medicare and Medicaid completely for two years. Because a certain amount of people think these programs a "socialist" programs. At the end of the two year period after being at the mercy of insurance companies ask the people what they want. We should only have one public option in this country that people could buy into if they choose to. Not bad for a complete liberal if I say so myself.

    August 16, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. want health care reform but not Obama's reform

    We do need health care reform but not government running health care.

    Why don't they go after the doctors and drug companies who are over charging. Alot of money can be saved by doctors overcharging medicare and mediaid. they are making a bundle on us. Also the insurance companies.

    If this passes, is Obama going to let him and his family be insured by a government run health care? Is he going to wait in line like us poor folks who will be paying for this? Is his rich backers going to wait in line?

    Were is the change he spoke of. Still reminds me of Bush.

    I don't say God bless Obama I say God helps us!!!!

    August 16, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Aspen Professor

    "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." And, WOW, no further discussion of the out-right lie about Death Panels for the elderly? Or was that just wishful thinking from Palin and Limbaugh?

    My God!!!! The Fox News Channel allowed intelligent professionals on their program??????? Is that a first? I am impressed!

    By the way, has Fox announced their findings on how much the 20+ unemployed people are being paid by the Repubs and Insurance Companies to scream and shout at the Town Hall meetings? And, does their "stipend" cover their bus fare, meals, and hotel rooms?

    August 16, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  24. Dylan , Orange County CA

    No...keep the ORIGINAL Obama plan which he said all along would revert to the old tax rates. People making over 250K can afford a tax increase. The other 98% of Americans can not afford it. That's NOT socialism it's called taxing people based on what they can afford. Obama's plan works. Believe him not the lobbyists and their Republican cronies.

    August 16, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Tresa

    I agree with everything Shirley Baxter said and I'm glad to see that there are reasonable people still left in the US. Personally I don't believe that health care reform should be a party issue, this is for the good of the people and it would do our country a world of good for both sides to come together in a civilized way to work out what's best for all. What I have been seeing at the townhall meetings sickens me to no end, just a bunch of drama with nothing being accomplished. I'm ready for a third party...let the extreme left and right fight it out and all the sane people will make up the new party.

    August 16, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
1 2 3