Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

AMA Criticizes Administration Health Care View

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

AMA Criticizes Administration Health Care View

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON _ Declaring that the president "may need us more than we need him," top officials of the American Medical Association on Thursday rejected charges of price gouging and said Hillary Rodham Clinton had grossly oversimplified the problems of the health care system.

AMA leaders said they were alarmed and dismayed at the first lady's attacks on the health care industry in a speech Wednesday.

While she did not identify any offenders, she denounced special interests and said that "too many people have made too much money" providing health care and health insurance.

Responding in an interview Thursday, Dr. James S. Todd, executive vice president of the AMA, which represents nearly half of the nation's 650,000 practicing doctors, said:

"One of the poorest ways to gain the cooperation of any group is to criticize it, particularly in public. It is always easy to identify villains and oversimplify issues, but that does not accomplish a great deal."

The White House has been trying to get the AMA to express support for the president's plan when it is unveiled next month. But Dr. Raymond Scalettar, chairman of the AMA, said the first lady "really took a blunderbuss to the entire health care industry" in her speech.

"Her populist purple prose will play well to those who do not understand the issues," Scalettar said. "But it's very disappointing to those of us who have to care for individual patients and diseases on a daily basis."

In confidential memorandums to trustees of the AMA, Todd said that "in discussions with other health organizations and members of Congress, there is a sense of declining expectations (outright pessimism in some cases) regarding the scope and acceptance of the plan being developed by the White House task force.

"It would appear that the president may need us more than we need him to get his health system reform plan through the Congress. …

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