WASHINGTON, D.C (NBC) - President Obama Monday took his case for universal coverage to some of its staunchest skeptics, doctors. At the American Medical Association convention, the president won cheers when he declared that health care reform is an urgent priority.
But back in Washington, opponents of big change are lining up again for a fight. Bill Clinton tried and failed. So did Presidents Carter and Nixon and Truman. But President Obama said Monday he thinks this is an opportunity we've never seen before for health care reform.
At the AMA convention in Chicago President Obama vowed health care reform this year and called it a moral issue. "We are not a nation that accepts nearly 46 million uninsured men, women, and children. We are not a nation that lets hardworking families go without the coverage," said Obama.
And he said it's the number one economic issue. "If we do not fix our health care system, America may go the way of GM; paying more, getting less, and going broke," said Obama.
To cut medical costs, Mr. Obama would switch from paper to computerized records, push preventative care and healthier lifestyles, pay doctors and hospitals for treating a patient's condition, a broken leg, the flu, a heart attack. The government would not pay for single visits, and pay bonuses for cures and healthy patients.
The president promised patients to leave intact what works. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period," said the president.
Doctors liked that and Mr. Obama recognizing their worry about malpractice lawsuits. "It is critical to physicians of this country," said AMA President Dr. Nancy Neilsen.
Uninsured Americans would go on the so called public plan.
Conservatives are up on the web in opposition.
Even some democratic lawmaker agree, "The votes are not there for a public health plan government run option," said Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman.
But the president says the trillion dollar cost for the public plan and the rest of his reforms can be paid for without busting the budget.
This will be a tough fight.