“Doctors do make house calls after all,” said Tabassum Zakaria in Reuters, at least if you live in the White House. A “sea of white lab coats” surrounded President Obama as he made his latest pitch for health-care reform. Obama didn’t mention the public option to the 150 assembled doctors from all 50 states, but a New England Journal of Medicine poll in September found that most U.S. doctors want both public and private options in the reform.
No wonder Obama wanted supportive doctors in the picture: They’re the most trusted voice in this debate, said Carrie Budoff Brown in Politico. Still, “the physician community is far from unified on the Democratic plan to overhaul health care.” To highlight that divide, the Republican National Committee hosted a call in which former American Medial Association president Donald Palmisano trashed any plan to increase government role in health care.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele must not have gotten the memo, said Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. On Fox and Friends Monday, Steele said the AMA “does not have the credibility on this health care issue” (watch). Perhaps he doesn’t know that the AMA, until this year, had “a lengthy record of trashing Democratic reform proposals”—or perhaps the GOP “just loved the AMA—right up until the group decided the Democratic reform proposals were a good deal.”
Critics are right, though, that Obama used the 150 doctors in the Rose Garden “as props,” said Russell Mokhiber in Single Payer Action. The White House cherry-picked the attendees—not allowed in, for example, were members of Physicians for a National Health Program, a group that represents 17,000 doctors in favor of a single-payer national health-care system.