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  October 7, 2009

Single payer MD's not invited to White House

President meets with doctors who support his reforms but excludes MD's who support "medicare for all"
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President Obama meets with doctors who support his reforms but excludes MD's who support "medicare for all"


GERALDINE CAHILL, TRNN: Hi. I'm Geraldine Cahill with The Real News Network. This health-care story is part of a series we are doing to help Americans make better informed decisions about health-care reform. But we can only do this work with your financial support. The economic crisis has hit us hard. Please become a member today so that we can continue bringing you stories like this.

ANIA SMOLENSKAIA, TRNN: On Monday, October 5, President Obama met with 150 doctors from all 50 states. According to The New York Times, "The White House said it assembled the group of doctors by working with several medical organizations, including the American Medical Association." Many were members of Doctors for America, a new grassroots organization and an outgrowth of Doctors for Obama, which worked to help elect the president. But it also appears to be working closely with Organizing for America, Mr. Obama's political organization. In an eight-minute address in the Rose Garden, the president outlined the general ideas of the five committees' drafts, but there was no mention of the public option. The doctors in attendance reiterated their agreement with an urgent need for the reform. However, no consensus on concrete measures exists in the health-care community at large. And while the president was meeting with one group, another group of pro-single-payer doctors seeking to attend the conference was refused entry.

DR. MARGARET FLOWERS, CO-CHAIR, PHYSICIANS FOR A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM: I'm Doctor Margaret Flowers with Physicians for a National Health Program. We represent over 17,000 physicians nationwide, and we are advocating for a national health program which is completely universal�everybody in, nobody out�and cost-saving. It allows us to take care of our patients without interference from insurance companies. And we requested a meeting with the president. We sent him a letter at the end of August, and he denied a meeting with us. The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, which is over 20 million people nationwide, requested a meeting. We were denied. The Mad as Hell Doctors traveled across the country to meet with the president. They were denied. Today the president is meeting with a delegation of 50 hand-picked physicians who support his agenda, rather than meeting with those physicians who are advocating for real, evidence-based reform.

DR. WALTER TSOU: The health-care system is totally dysfunctional, and I totally believe that it's time for us to have a single-payer national health-insurance plan similar to what people up in Canada and Taiwan have.

DR. MICHAEL HUFFINGTON: We signed on a sheet that we wanted to be admitted, even though we may not have been on the invitation list. They took our names and an hour later told us that we must leave.

DR. GEORGE PAUK: Obama is excluding us doctors who have a slightly different idea about how to reform health care in the United States.

FLOWERS: We're very upset that this legislation is literally being written by industry executives to benefit the health insurance industry and not to provide health care for our patients. Forty-five thousand or more patients are dying every year needlessly because they can't get health care. The suffering is immense and the time for that is to stop. We have a simple solution: Medicare for everybody. And we need to do that now.


MEGAPHONE: Single-payer now!

CROWD: Not warfare!


DAVID SWANSON, ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR: My name's David Swanson. I work with and Progressive Democrats of America and many other groups. And I name that one because they've had this theme of "health care, not warfare" for years now. And today that worked out very well, because they're having a conference inside the fence at the White House about health care, and we're here to say "end the warfare," and you get both messages. And, in fact, we've been trying to make clear in our chants and in our interviews that if they would end of these wars that the majority of Americans want ended, there would be more than enough money to give us single-payer health care, which the majority of Americans want, and have money left over. So it's hard to see what the problem is with that agenda other than corruption and bribes and the power of money and the corporate media and party control of Congress members who don't represent us. There was also a group of doctors outside the fence to say: why are we not even included in discussions? We support single-payer health care. Physicians for a National Health Program support single-payer health care. California Nurses Association and all of the nurses are out here to say we want single-payer health care, or at least we want it in the conversation so that something worthwhile becomes the middle ground and the compromise, rather than what we're looking at now. Donna Smith, a friend of mine who was in the movie Sicko, is here, who told me that she's talked to everyone who was in the movie Sicko, and the bills that are in Congress now would not do anything, would not have done anything to help any of them with their problems. So we want to at least move the conversation. And I think it's shameful to put doctors on the front as the face of a policy that's clearly been dictated by the health-insurance companies and the major hospital organizations and the pharmaceuticals, and this president won't even show us the visitor logs of whom he's talked to.

CAHILL: Hi, again. I'm Geraldine Cahill with The Real News Network. Over the next few months, we plan to investigate, report, and debate the different proposals for American health-care reform. We will continue our series Americans Talk to Canadians about Health Care, and we will broaden that to include the experience with health-care models in Europe and in other countries. We will be holding town hall debates where people can discuss what kind of reforms will create the best system for Americans. We will do all of this without corporate or government funding. This kind of independent programming is only possible if you become a member of The Real News Network with a tax-deductible donation today. The economic crisis has made things difficult for us, as it has for many others. We need your support if we're going to produce the uncompromising journalism that people need. Please click on the Donate button and become a member now. If you are a member, please contribute again. Let us know you want us to continue this work.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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