President Obama & Speaker Pelosi vs. the Docs on Public Insurance Option

The American Medical Association, in comments in response to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee legislative options discussion draft, stated that they are opposed to a public plan option.

This puts the American Medical Association at odds with both President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, who has said she will not let a bill out of the U.S. House without a public plan option.

This news was reported in the New York Times here, and below are the most relevant excerpts:

“While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” It is now reacting, for the first time, to specific legislative proposals being drafted by Congress.

“In the presidential campaign last year and in a letter to Congress last week, Mr. Obama called for a new “public health insurance option,” which he said would compete with private insurers and keep them honest.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Wednesday that she supported that goal. “A bill will not come out of the House without a public option,” she said Wednesday on MSNBC.

“But in comments submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Medical Association said: “The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.”

“If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the group said, “the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”