Former AMA President Speaks Out Against Senate Inclusion Of Public Option

Spokesman for 10,000-member doctor group opposes additional government control of medicine

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The following is a statement from Dr. Donald Palmisano, spokesman for the Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights and former president of the American Medical Association, on Sen. Reid’s decision to include a public option in healthcare overhaul legislation:

“The government-controlled public option is bad policy that will weaken our nation’s healthcare system. As we’ve seen in places around the world, government-controlled healthcare leads to long waiting lines, substandard care, and an end to medical innovation. Placing Medicaid-for-all-type government caps on payments will not slow the cost of healthcare, it will only minimize the care that those patients’ receive.

“Even with a state opt-out option, the federal government has leverage and resources to coerce states into accepting the terms of Congress’ desires. A simple example is the government withholding highway transportation funds until states complied with their legislative dictates. Now imagine the impact if the federal government chooses its Medicaid funding as the means to pressure cash-strapped state houses to accept the Congress’ latest whim.

“Medicaid and Medicare already reimburse doctors and hospitals less than the cost of providing many medical services. By forcibly tightening the grip on our nation’s healthcare sector, the federal government will wrest more of the healthcare decision-making from patients and doctors and give it to bureaucrats in Washington.

“We have the best healthcare system in the world. More than 230 million Americans have health insurance and the vast majority of them are happy with their care and their doctors. And we agree that we should work together to expand access to healthcare without expanding the reach of the federal government.

“The Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights believes that legislators can strengthen our healthcare system by shielding patients from being dropped by their insurance carrier for pre-existing conditions, allowing individuals to keep their health coverage even when they change jobs, and empowering patients to purchase insurance across state lines. However, growing government control of healthcare is a recipe for disaster.

“We urge all Members of Congress to proceed with caution, because patients’ lives are at risk. We continue to look forward to working with Members of Congress to ensure healthcare reform strengthens our nation’s healthcare system for all Americans.”

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