out of business, which could affect your current coverage.
Second: effective treatment. The president agrees with experts who
say that about a third of what we now spend on health care is
unnecessary. He says we reward doctors and hospitals the wrong way,
paying for simply doing more tests and procedures, rather than paying
for good outcomes.
And he stresses that primary care, readily available family doctors,
physician assistants and nurse practitioners is essential in promoting
prevention, making sure we get screening tests and lifestyle advice, and
coordination, orchestrating the care of specialists and home care for
Critics say that, if third-party government experts set the rules
for what is covered and paid for, patients and doctors will have less of
a voice and choice.
And, finally, cost control. The president insists that increasing
coverage without controlling costs is a formula for economic disaster.
That will be a tough job, given that estimates for reform now run
between $1 trillion and $2 trillion over 10 years.
Besides savings from the reform of Medicare and Medicaid, he has
advocated new tax revenue by limiting deductions for charitable giving,
but he has not yet agreed to taxing any insurance benefits from
employers as income. Critics say his plan spends too much and the
government just does not have the money.
So, Diane and Charlie, three huge challenges, a formula for
heartburn, which, by the way, is something we doctors can fix.
GIBSON: Dr. Tim Johnson there outlining some of the parameters of
the debate. And we're going to try to loosely organize things. We have
this -- we're calling this prescription of America, but basically this
is, how does this affect me? How does it affect all of you at the
doctor's office? Should there be a public option, public -- government
insurance in all of this? And what is the cost of all of this? Can we
And as we mentioned, 164 people here from all walks of life, Mr.
President. Before we start, I'm curious. I want to get a show of
hands. How many of you -- whether you agree with the president's
approach or not, how many of you agree that we need to change the health
care system in America?
And is there anybody here who believes the system should be left
Interesting. But there is a lot of disagreement, because the devil
is in the details, as we all know.
OBAMA: Let's -- let's stop now.
OBAMA: Let's go. We're ready to...
GIBSON: So, as we say, all of this is, how does this affect me?
And we want to get your questions.
And I want to start with Dr. Orrin Devinsky. Is he here? Dr.
DR. ORRIN DEVINSKY, EPILEPSY SPECIALIST: Yes, in the past, politicians who have sought to reform health care have tried to limit costs by reducing
tests, access to specialists, but they've not been good at taking their
own medicine. When they or their family members get sick, they often
get extremely expensive evaluations and expert care.
If a national health plan was approved and your family participated,
and, President Obama, if your wife or your doctor became seriously ill,
and things were not going well, and the plan physicians told you they
were doing everything that reasonably could be done, and you sought out
opinions from some medical leaders and major centers, and they said
there's another option that you should -- should pursue, but it was not