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Health Care PolicyPrimary Care

AMA Rejects, OHC Embraces Public Insurance Plan

I read this morning that the American Medical Association, of which I am a member, rejects the plan of the Obama administration to offer a public health insurance alternative along with the full retinue of private health insurance plans as part of the overall health insurance reforms underway.

This decision by the AMA is, in my judgment, badly misguided and does not represent our outlook. To the contrary, the existence of a well-designed and implemented public insurance option for health care will work to keep our private insurers more honest than they have been. As a practicing clinician, it has long been clear that private insurers are not the providers’ friend, nor those of our patients. They look after their own interests. Witness the United Healthcare CEO who accrued close to a billion dollars (consider that) of bonuses related to his running a health insurance company, while patients paid high premiums and primary care providers were being starved by that same company.

The AMA perhaps only objects to a public plan that requires every doctor’s participation. That is a distinction with some merit, but which will likely be lost in the overall debate. Harry and Louise will ignore that caveat and declare that the AMA is on their side. But we are not.

Our privately dominated health insurance system is terribly flawed. It is dysfunctional, wasteful, and unreasonably expensive. We badly need a public health insurance carrier as a voluntary option for every American to choose. The AMA does not speak for Orchard Health Care on this critical issue.

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