Obama Health Care Plan

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President Obama spoke to members of the American Medical Association recently. Hear from Dr. Jacqueline Chadwick of the Arizona Medical Association about the speech and the president’s plan.


Jacqueline Chadwick: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Your thoughts of what you heard from the president regarding healthcare reform.

Jacqueline Chadwick: The president was very well received at the A. M. A. Its unfortunate that the only thing that made the news was the boo that happened when he mentioned he was not in favor of caps on malpractice awards. There was a dozen standing ovations of his speech. A little disappointed in the lack of some detail about some of the key items in his proposal and disappointment that we wanted to hear for substance on the liability reform issue.

Ted Simons: I want to get to tort reform in a second. Let's start with the option which government gets in the insurance business and competes against private firms.

Jacqueline Chadwick: We had a significant discussion with half the delegates after that. I would say there's as much polarization as much as the public. There's an espousal significant option and those who say we don't want another Medicare-type system. I would say a majority of physicians feel we would not like to have another Medicare-type system to run the insurance program. We would like to see private insurance reform and other aspects of that. He was not clear in public option and made it difficult for us to respond.

Ted Simons: I know he said the public option would increase competition and that would be a good thing as well. Do you agree with that?

Jacqueline Chadwick: I think it's important but if they don't allow for the leveling of the playing field among private insurance of the companies, ultimately there won't be private insurance companies. Is this slippery slope to the government running health insurance. While the president denied that case, it's hard to understand that it's hard for the private sector to operate on the same level.

Ted Simons: It would seem this was the compromise on his part of the single-payer system. Single pair to public option and regional co-op. What do you think of the co-op ideas?

Jacqueline Chadwick: There's not enough information in the programs to comment yet. It's nice that's the physicians and A. M. A. is at the table and we are operating on the principles we wish to see maintained in reform. We don't know the definitions of public option and co-ops. We have to get details before we can adequately respond.

Ted Simons: Is there agreement that reform is necessary.

Jacqueline Chadwick: I would say the vast majority of physicians speaking think system reform is necessary. Doctors want to take care of patients. There's so much between our ability to take care of patients and all of the business side of medicine that that's a problem.

Ted Simons: Do most doctors--and I've seen different studies where most doctors say even a single-payer system is okay by them where most doctors may be with the American Medical Association aren't that positive about it. What is wrong with the single-payer system?

Jacqueline Chadwick: It's a totally government-run system and we have seen the difficulties, for example, with Medicare. When you talk about the main issue being cost, a bottom line approach, the only thing that can happen in what the president called a deficit neutral situation is ultimately rationing. The way the government does things is just by addressing ratcheting down payments. That's not the answer to problems including malpractice and tort reform.

Ted Simons: Let's get to tort reform. Obviously the president is not quite ready to go that far. Again we have seen studies and incidents where certain areas go into tort reforms and medical costs aren't lowering. Why is tort reform so important? How do you make it fair for someone who has been wronged by medical malpractice?

Jacqueline Chadwick: I don't think physicians feel that patients who have been truly wronged by malpractice don't deserve compensation. What we are talking about is mal occurrence if a doctor does everything right and a standard of care in a particular area and done everything that's correct without having studies or research behind it but there's a bad outcome for lots of different reasons. That's a mal occurrence. That's nothing the physician did wrong. The other thing about malpractice is over the last--i'm going to say two decades--i've been in practice 30 years now. Over the past two decades there's an increase in defensive medicine that we as physicians don't recognize that we're doing it. We order tests and do things out of fear over being sued and not rightfully so but patients are demanding things. You are fearful that you are going to be sued and your entire resources will be consumed by that much less the agony of going through it that I think it's added huge costs to the systems. If we could get rid of tort reform and defensive medicine and compensate for real malpractice, I think that's a good approach.

Ted Simons: Let me ask you this question and I get it all the time. Folks don't think doctors see healthcare as a right. They see it as a privilege. Is healthcare a right in America?

Jacqueline Chadwick: You would have to ask every single individual physician. I think you hit on the underlying topic here for both of the professionals and the public to have that debate. You know, personally I have gravitated more towards a basic healthcare--if we are talking about healthcare, that is a right. Because all patients should be taken care of no matter what's wrong with them. If we are talking about health insurance being a right or type of healthcare being a right that's a thornier issue because you get in the different aspects of what is right for me.

Ted Simons: We have to stop it there. Thank you for joining me on horizon.

Jacqueline Chadwick: Thank you Ted.

Dr. Jacqueline Chadwick:Arizona Medical Association;

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