Published Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | 7:12 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | 7:17 p.m.
WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley had face-time with the president today on health care reform, and she used her precious minutes at the White House to stress the importance of talking honestly about the high cost of end-of-life care.
Berkley was among Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee invited to discuss health care as Congress begins to legislate President Barack Obama’s top priority this year.
When it came her turn to speak, Berkley was not shy.
“I said, Mr. President, the way we deliver health care in this county is bass akwards,” Berkley recounted. “We spend a large portion on end-of-life care. We don’t invest enough on early detection and prevention of disease.”
Admittedly, these are sensitive issues, Berkley said. But ones she felt families, and the government, need to address as health costs are debated.
She also encouraged the president to support primary care physicians and specialists by maintaining their reimbursements rates and offering incentives for young people to enter the medical profession. Her husband and stepdaughter are both doctors and show her first-hand the challenges in the profession, she said.
The president seemed responsive. Obama opened the meeting with 45 minutes on his schedule with the group.
“An hour and a half later, we were still talking,” Berkley said.
This was Berkley’s third visit to the Obama White House, having attended with the House's centrist New Democrats caucus and for a celebration of Greek heritage.