Policy-ish

A Coda On Obama's AMA Speech

President Obama waves from the podium before he speaks to the American Medical Association

President Obama waves from the stage before speaking to the American Medical Association on Monday Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Thanks for watching our first live-blogging effort yesterday. And thanks for your comments on our coverage of President Obama's speech to the American Medical Association. I'll respond here to a few.

To Dr. Kahn, who says:

"I dont think there is any thing wrong with govt. backed health insurance plan. After all medicare is a govt [plan] and my patients love it."

Yes, that's the paradox. Medicare is government-funded and government-run and generally patients love it, but doctors not so much — because Medicare limits how much they can charge.

And next year, thanks to a formula pretty much everyone agrees is badly flawed, doctors are facing a potential 20 percent cut in their Medicare payments unless Congress acts.

To Sam, who worried about there not being enough doctors to care for 46 million newly-insured people:

Never fear, lawmakers are taking that into account. This may come as heresy to our friends at the AMA, but not everyone who gets sick needs to be seen by someone with an M.D. after his or her name.

One of the goals of a health care overhaul is to train more people to become nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other so-called "mid-level" health professionals. Such workers can help take the strain off of doctors by treating those with minor or routine ailments or deliver preventive care, leaving doctors more time to tackle the big stuff.

At least that's the hope...

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