President pushes for health care plan

WASHINGTON, (NBC) - The idea of a public health insurance plan, competing with all the private plans out there, has some lawmakers on Capitol Hill worried about what that could mean when you head to the doctor.

President Obama insists that by getting rid of things that don't work, he can pay for health reform, estimated to cost taxpayers over a trillion dollars.

"It will not add to our deficits over the next decade," he said today during a White House news conference.

He's defending the idea of a government health insurance plan, paying your bills, not picking your doctor.

But it's those payments that doctors and insurers have a problem with.

They complain Medicare already doesn't pay enough.

"If a system is set up that replicates that, shifts even more costs onto those who have health plan coverage, then the whole system could collapse," says Mike Tuffin of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Critics predict employers would stop offering health insurance and send workers to the government plan, which could drive private companies out of business.

"Most Americans know the government competes with the private sector the way an alligator competes with a duck:  It consumes it," says Indiana GOP Rep. Mike Pence.

But the president argues competition from Uncle Sam would force private insurers to cover more people for less money.

"I'd like insurance companies to take note and say:  'Hey, if the public plan can do that, why can't we?'" said Obama.

Under an Obama/Democratic plan, insurers could no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

"It's a practice I think the industry is willing to abandon if we can get everyone into the insurance pool and get everyone covered," says CEO of AETNA, Ronald Williams.

The goal is getting everyone covered.

The problem is how to pay for it.