Those Wary of Health Insurance Reform May Have Ally in Physicians

June 12, 2009

President Barak Obama takes his case for reform of the nation’s health insurance system to the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physicians group, on June 15.

While the AMA says it is honored to welcome the president to its annual meeting, where policies that guide the association’s advocacy initiatives are often decided, the group apparently has some concerns about President Obama’s call for a public health plan.

AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen M.D. said the group has “major concerns about government control over health care decisions,” according to an Associated Press report.

In an announcement released by the physicians’ association, Nielsen said the AMA “is actively working for health reform that covers the uninsured, makes private insurance more affordable, increases the value our nation receives from its health-care spending and enhances prevention and wellness for patients.”

The group’s position, she said, is that any “health reform that covers the uninsured must also include permanent Medicare payment reform, antitrust relief and medical liability protections.”

Insurance agents’ groups have expressed concern over plans to create a public health insurance system. Many property and casualty agents also sell health insurance and are concerned that a possible government-sponsored health plan might compete with private insurance plans, which could diminish agents’ share of the health insurance market.

Charles Symington, senior vice president of government affairs and top lobbyist for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (Big I), said that health care reform was at the top of the Big “I’s” agenda at that group’s legislative conference earlier this year.

The Big “I”, along with the AHIA-NAIFA Health and Employee Benefits Association (AHIA), The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (CIAB), the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) have announced that they will host a special joint health care reform Capitol Hill fly-in July 14-15, to lobby lawmakers on this issue.

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