Sunday, June 14, 2009 | 2:06 a.m.
President Barack Obama will speak to the American Medical Association on Monday as part of his push to overhaul the nation’s health care system. It will be a tough sell. The AMA has been wary about a proposal to provide universal coverage through a government insurance plan.
The AMA, the face of the nation’s physicians, is representative of the opposition Obama and Congress face when it comes to health care. Although few disagree with universal health care, there are many people and groups who oppose government involvement or intervention.
Obama is making a strong case for why America needs change in health care. He has invited critics to be a productive part the debate, but the critics seem to be much happier trying to kill plans. They have bemoaned “socialized” medicine, although no one is seriously proposing having government take over health care. Conservatives also like to decry the cost of universal coverage, but they should look at the facts.
Americans spend more than $2.2 trillion a year on health care — more than $7,400 per person. Health care spending is expected to account for 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in the next decade.
There are any number of reasons for the high costs, including inefficiencies in the system and the costs of treating the uninsured, and what is needed is the political will to make the necessary changes. Unfortunately, past efforts to change the system have been derailed by those whose ideology or bottom line is threatened. As a result, costs have skyrocketed, and average Americans, whose voices are drowned out by the wealthy lobbyists, are feeling the pinch.
The average American needs to be heard. The president’s grass-roots organization, Organizing for America, is ramping up efforts to get citizens involved, which is vital. Americans should be concerned about the quality and cost of the health care system and make it clear to Congress, the insurance industry and the medical community that change is needed.