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Our ailing health system

August 06, 2009

Re "Can Obama recover on healthcare?" Opinion, Aug. 2

I am confident that President Obama will discover moral imperatives for creating new entitlements, even if he misses Doyle McManus' latest column. Unfortunately, too many of his predecessors had the same idea, and the price of their collective generosity is becoming clear.

With Medicare predicted to go insolvent in 2017, the president must explain how he plans to save government healthcare. We know he wants to add millions of new beneficiaries and make the rich pay more. If that's a revenue-neutral proposition, he has yet to convince either the Congressional Budget Office or the public. His cost-cutting proposals haven't helped; they sound as nebulous as his campaign slogans and promise to be as quickly forgotten.

Michael Smith

Cynthiana, Ky.

::

While it is critically important to seniors and their physicians that healthcare reform legislation repeal the broken Medicare payment formula that threatens seniors' access to care, it is only one of the reasons the American Medical Assn. supports the House bill, contrary to what McManus writes.

The AMA is working for every American to have affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage, and the House bill helps achieve this goal by expanding coverage through a choice of plans and eliminating denials based on preexisting conditions. Other key provisions supported by the AMA include addressing physician workforce concerns and promoting patient wellness and disease prevention.

There is more work to be done after Congress' August recess, and the AMA will stay constructively engaged to make sure the final legislation improves the system for patients and the dedicated physicians who care for them.

J. James Rohack MD

Chicago

The writer is president of the American Medical Assn.

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